Burial Rites on White Island Volcano (haibun)

The way the sulfur burns our throats on this molten prison
This smoking island “it can’t possibly be worth it” digging
Yellow neon sweating rock – but oh how on some sun-filled days
The deep water around us seems gentle and free and how the birds
May have returned to say goodnight as we settle in, bones aching
From hard labor, our feet covered in volcanic dust, our nostrils
Burnt with the sulfur, oh it is ungodly quiet when we settle in to sleep,
It is quiet when the lahars bury us at sea….

End of days foretold
swiftly the darkness becomes
a light to walk towards.

[written about the the White Island volcano in New Zealand: “Attempts were made in the mid 1880s, 1898–1901 and 1913-1914 to mine sulphur from White Island but the last of these came to a halt in September 1914, when part of the western crater rim collapsed, creating a lahar which killed all 10 workers. They disappeared without trace, and only a camp cat survived.”]