Volcano Pacaya

by Michelle Donahue
The guide climbs Pacaya
as if his body creates air.
               I gasp
incline leaving alveoli
grasping for oxygen.
Men with caballos
               horse skin curved
ribs, stomach concave
trail behind offering
a respite from climbing.
Only 200 quetzales, they shout.

The mist makes
us ghosts, hides bodies
so my tour dissolves& now
just me and the volcano,
              in places rock still
so hot it steams.

I believe I am alone
until mist moves & tourists
              bloom as if
weedy. Clouds cling
to Pacaya, jagged crater
              place of collapse.
I would so like to believe
              I'm alone,
to hear this rough volcano speak.
Sun would show me
               Antigua & San Francisco
where I'm told it isn't safe to stop
for a liter of cheap beer. Now,
               the mist won't shift.
               Pacaya kept secret.

The guide smears orange pigment
on me from the tree,
             llora sangre.
Rain spatters & orange drips
down, clung in chin cleft.
              She cries blood.
I yearn for that unsafe beer, the freedom
to determine what’s safe,
                     what’s not. I try to immerse
here, to inhale this silence and
commune, but my blood isn’t

            llora sangre orange.
Michelle Donahue is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Iowa State where she is the managing editor of Flyway. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Redactions, Whiskey Island, Paper Darts, and others.

© 2014, Michelle Donahue