I’d like to enjoy the colors of autumn – the sugar maple, dripping its red leaves like the last of summer’s blood, or the bright yellow of a hickory. Soon the oak trees will turn bronze-gold as Hephaestus forges eternity. The light is a particular kind of light, thicker, more like taffy syrup.
Usually I can. Usually I glory in the colors and light, the changing scent of seasons as acorns fall and car tires crush them into the autumn perfume. This year it’s harder.
Part of my spirit is still stuck in Hawaii. I’ve been back a month now, and while life has whirled and I’m back to writing and teaching and working and preparing a poetry book for publication, the breath of me, let’s say the right side of my lung, is in Hawaii.
Of course it’s beautiful in the islands, but that’s not what calls my breath westward across the Pacific. I don’t even know if I can define what it is: fire, earth, water, air. Perhaps it’s the combination of elements that makes Hawaii Island so riveting.
I remember another fall, walking a road through freshly poured lava one full moon night. Kilauea had a ring of fire-pouring vents all along the crown and smoke obscured the black land around us. From time to time, we’d hear the crackle of a tree as it burst into flame. The Park Service at Volcano had spray painted directional arrows on the road because they knew in any season when Kilauea poured into the sea, people came to watch.
My sister, brother-in-law, and I followed the arrows to the sea. The wind off the waves fresh and clean in our lungs. A full moon spread a golden path across the water. And there, at the place where a lava tube opened onto the beach, Pele danced fire in a raw, black-red river into the waves, lifted, roiled in fire chunks, played in the sea.
And the Holy One saw creation. And it was good.