When Mount Vesuvius covered Pompeii,
it was the right time to use all of
those big question words we learned:
When, if not always?
Where would you keep
the corpses if not under
a thick blanket of apology from
the mountain they loved
like a husband?

I’m jealous of the citizens
of Pompeii, that the end of their
lives was so easy, natural, quick.
One minute you’re spinning a spoon in a bowl of soup,
the next you are knee deep in lava,
screaming goodbye across a kitchen table.

How do you recognize yourself Vesuvius in a
therapist’s office? When depression is so
molten how do I know what of me is sickness
and what is lava?
Which domesticity is best: the laundry room or the
kitchen for confessing that your core is all tomorrow
you pray will not come?
How do you write a suicide note when your
hands are magma?
I’m living on fault lines,
nothing if not the
catastrophic parts of me.
When not a fault line, I am the cliff and these
hikers keep slipping, screaming, they all
sound like the happy girl I used to be. Self-harm is just
compensating for the bodies.
When not a cliff, I am the fissure,
everyone I love will
be knee-deep in my sulfur.
But I am always volcano,
I ooze obituary. I love people like ash,
wrap myself around them, pretend
they won’t be coughing up grief
for years.

But, that’s the thing about volcanos.
The people living in their shadows will say they are mountains,
love their jagged edge on creamy blue skies,
live lazy days in the scoop of the bowl valley.
They don’t call it “inevitable” they call it “unconditional love”

I love like
obsidian: this was the sweetest coping.

As an eruption, I don’t call this “unconditional”
I call it “Just shake off the charcoal and go on with your life.”
I call it “You’re better off with these craters, I promise.”
I call it “I’m so sorry.”

Did you know,
eruptions change the gravitational force
of their surroundings.
You’ll find how soon everything returns to normal.
Just this moment of cinder and ashfall and forgetting.
Then someone’s baby I never met will cry in the back row of my funeral.
You’ll sob, thinking about
the volcano girl you loved.
What a mountain she could’ve been.

By Dorothy McGinnis


Dorothy is a performer, a poet, and also very possibly 22 very little baby ducks disguised as a human. No one is certain. Dottie knew her path was clear when a substitute teacher in her 9th grade theatre class said one of her performances was so convincing he almost thought she was his ex wife. Dorothy has been published on Voicemail Poetry and Rejected Poetry Journal. Dorothy was a member of the 2016 Salt City Unified Team and the 2017 YouSpeak team. Her poem “English Classes”, about how Zelda Fitzgerald deserved SO MUCH BETTER can be seen on Write About Now’s youtube channel.

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