Volcanic Heat

Poetry / Adela Najarro

:: Volcanic Heat ::

When my father became a letter, my mother ate 
a wedding cake that no one could see, 

then turned up the music and began to dance.
The volcano inside her was quiet, and she was calm.

The volcano wasn’t something she could lose. 
It had always been with her. Once while standing 

at the rim, a lava lake roiling below, my mother knew
that it wasn’t too late. So she started
with what she needed to do: sold a golden
crucifix, said good-bye to her brothers, 

boarded a Pan Am flight to San Francisco.
Then she continued to create possibility

by curling hair and setting rollers. She curtailed gossip, 
and cut the umbilical cords of my brother and I. 

With the volcano’s heat inside her, my mother changed 
the landscape. Magma exploded and lava flowed. 

First, a seismic boom, then fire rocks avalanched down, 
molten bombs shot into sky, and ash dusted 

sidewalks with premonitions of coming ghosts.
My mother did the impossible: in her old age, 

with the heat and rage of the volcano 
capped tight by cooled solid rock,

she laughed as a cat chased a squirrel up a tree.


From the writer

:: Account ::

As a child of immi­grants, the home­land haunts, and so it remains nec­es­sary for me to redis­cov­er my fam­i­ly through poet­ry as an attempt to under­stand and artic­u­late migra­tion and its affects on every­thing that makes a life. My influ­ences are Walt Whit­man, Pablo Neru­da, and San­dra Cis­neros. I claim Anglo/US/British poet­ry as my lega­cy, as well as that of Latin Amer­i­ca, includ­ing the Nicaragüence poet, Rubén Darío, and his mod­ernismo move­ment with mer­maids, cas­tles, and droop­ing roses.

My moth­er turned nine­ty this sum­mer and I love to watch her. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote that to real­ly love some­one is to under­stand them. When in my mother’s com­pa­ny, I “see” who she is and so poems arise. She is mem­o­ry. She is the past. She is a Nicaraguan caldera sim­mer­ing through time.

Nicaragua is lined with vol­ca­noes and so I have writ­ten a series of poems where each con­tains a ref­er­ence to Nicaraguan vol­ca­noes. I love the idea of a volcano—the heat, mag­ma, and over­flow. This trope allowed me to tap into the home­land while writ­ing poems that speak to each other.


Adela Najar­ro is the author of two poet­ry col­lec­tions, Split Geog­ra­phy (Mouth­feel Press, 2015), and Twice Told Over (Unso­licit­ed Press, 2015), and a chap­book, My Chil­drens (Unso­licit­ed Press, 2017), which includes teach­ing resources for high school and col­lege class­rooms. Her poet­ry appears in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona Press anthol­o­gy The Wind Shifts: New Lati­no Poet­ry, and she has pub­lished poems in numer­ous jour­nals, includ­ing Porter Gulch Review, Acen­tos Review, Bor­der­Sens­es, Fem­i­nist Stud­ies, Puer­to del Sol, Nim­rod Inter­na­tion­al Jour­nal of Poet­ry & Prose, Notre Dame Review, Blue Mesa Review, Crab Orchard Review, and else­where. More infor­ma­tion about my poet­ry and pub­li­ca­tions can be found on her web­site: www.adelanajarro.com.