POEMS: Rebuilding, and The man in a silver thermal suit


In 1977 Ignatio gathered his family
and fled the city of Goma.
Lava from Nyiragongo
covered his house.
His neighbours who couldn’t run
were overtaken.

Ignatio returned and re-built his house
with floors and walls of lava,
on the graves of his neighbours
turned to stone.
He replanted crops,
in time they did well,
yielding three harvests a year.

In 2002 Ignatio gathered his family
and fled again from Goma.
Lava a kilometre wide
covered half the city.

Ignatio, returning from a refugee shelter,
re-built his house
in exactly the same place.


The man in the silver thermal suit

The man in the silver thermal suit
stands at the lip of the lava lake.
Before him lava boils and swirls,
acrid smoke billows, gases explode,
fountains of molten rock
shoot into the air.
At his feet the overflow
is glassy and still hot.
The lake becomes unsettled;
lava heaves itself into a wave,
the man is mesmerized,
he cannot tear himself away.
His frantic colleagues call,
their urgency breaks through,
he chips a piece of cooling lava
from the rim and flees.
Behind him the breaking wave
sweeps into his footprints.



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