Icelandic Lava Tubes

Descending into Earth’s belly
we clamber over solidified lava,
misshapen slabs, coarse and sharp.
Crouch. Walk. Crawl in darkness.
Her innards surround us.

Two thousand years have passed
since she belched fire
spewed molten fury
hurled detritus,
encased this land.

Liquid anger flowed and ebbed
cracked in cooling drafts
left behind tunnel pathways,
cold witness to those fury days.

My mouth agape,
body chilled to the bone,
we move through this, her confession,
the scars of a temper once unleashed.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where Paul asks us to write a poem from our underground travels. Paul opens Tuesday Poetics at 3 PM Boston time.  Photos: from our recent excursion into the lava fields and extinct volcanoes outside Reykjavik, Iceland. We actually went underground and explored a 2,000 + year old lava tube. That’s me in the purple. Last photo is what the land above the tube looks like — that’s lichen growing on ancient lava fields. Very barren and harsh. Iceland is one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries. It has extensive volcanic and geothermal activity (see photos with my one sentence poem entitled Geyser. About 50% of Iceland is mountainous lava desert. Only 1% of their land is cultivated.

33 thoughts on “Icelandic Lava Tubes

  1. frankhubeny May 23, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    I liked thinking of those tunnels as a “confession” of what the volcanoes did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      Glad you enjoyed, Frank. It was a real underground experience to explore as we did!

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      Glad you enjoyed. We found Iceland a magical place!


  2. paul scribbles May 23, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    Wonderful response Lillian. Into the depths of it all, the belly as you so beautifully describe it. Temper tantrums don;t come much bigger than volcanoes. Let’s hope she is not being riled once more. Love the pics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 3:36 pm

      I’m told there are active volcanoes in Iceland. Our guide did not take us there! We only saw and explored the extinct ones 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this and thanks for the great prompt!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel Rosenberg May 23, 2017 / 3:40 pm

    I went to some lava tubes in Hawaii not so long ago, and I, too, was struck by the thought of how different this place I was walking in used to be; the extremes in temperature and the very rock liquifying and flowing…and now it’s all so dark and calm!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      We’ve actually explored lava tubes on the Big Island, Hawaii also…in Volcano National Park. We also did a lava walk there and have photos of us standing right next to the glowing red lava that was moving s-l-o-w-l-y….and we walked back at night with flashlights and the lava was glowing red coming down the hill!


  4. kim881 May 23, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    Your travel poems are amazing, Lillian! You’ve got me hankering for a trip to Iceland – my kind of place But are these lava tubes easy to escape from if you’re overcome with claustrophobia? 🙂
    By the way, I love the lines:
    ‘Liquid anger flowed and ebbed
    cracked in cooling drafts
    left behind tunnel pathways,
    cold witness to those fury days’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 8:18 pm

      In this particular lava tube, only one way in which was also the way out! We did have several people who elected to stay above ground.
      So glad you enjoyed! 🙂 Iceland is truly an amazing place.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. jillys2016 May 23, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    Before I scrolled down to the photos you had me in a panic with your well-crafted words! (Claustrophobic, here.) Beautiful pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 8:19 pm

      Well….it was very close…that’s for sure. I didn’t post the photo of us with our helmets one that had a light in the front. There were a number of times I hit my helmet on the rock above…it was that low. And the crawling was hard on the knees….I think in the photo you can see me sitting on my bum going down some slabs of lava. It was truly an amazing experience!


  6. Sabio Lantz May 23, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    This poem added so much to the story and the picture — I could feel some of your amazement. Superb. I’ve never been in such a structure and you took me there. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 8:20 pm

      Thank you, Sabio. It was truly an amazing outing that day. On that same day, we climbed to the top of an extinct volcano — a very steep and long hike. Truly amazing to look down on all the lava fields. It was quite a day!


  7. Sherry Blue Sky May 23, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    What a fantastic trip and experience that must have been. Thanks for taking us along on a virtual journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 8:21 pm

      Always glad to take folks along on our journeys! 🙂 It was indeed a fantastic experience!


  8. Bev May 23, 2017 / 5:58 pm

    Thank you for taking me there, into the depths. Your words are exquisitely crafted!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 8:21 pm

      What a wonderful comment, Bev. Thank you so much!


  9. Adda May 23, 2017 / 6:28 pm

    I find it intriguing you associated “this” as feminine. I replaced her with his and she with he and read it again… a different sense emerges, at least for me it did. I would associate it as feminine also since we generally associate Earth as feminine. I had an eerie sense when I read “Her innards surround us”… it is her innards!! – love it! I love the ending “her confession,
    the scars of a temper once unleashed.” … hot molten lava bellowing from below – yep, that is a temper all right. The Character you describe is fabulous and one I would like to meet some day (in other words visit one of these lava tubes). Beautiful characterization through your description. Awesome. Thank you for taking me on your trip with you. I have very much enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 8:24 pm

      What a wonderful and thoughtful comment. Thank you! After reading your comment, I also reread it using masculine pronouns and it does indeed change the feeling of the poem. Could almost be mother earth being assaulted by the male volcano….how huge a change that perspective is. Mother Earth becomes a battered spouse. wow. Now you’ve got me thinking! 🙂 The student teaches the teacher — wonderful!


  10. Sascha Darlington May 23, 2017 / 6:59 pm

    Oddly enough my poem too is about lava tubes (and I thought I was coming up with a unique experience here, ha!). It was interesting to read your experience. I liked how you put it together and “liquid anger”. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 23, 2017 / 8:26 pm

      Thank you, Sascha. My norm is to do my reading the next morning (tomorrow) with a hot steaming cup of coffee in hand. I look forward to reading your post! And yes — that is quite amazing that we both wrote about lava tubes! Have you explored them? We’ve also been in lava tubes in the Big Island (Hawaii) and Volcano National Park. They are amazing geologic structures.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sascha Darlington May 23, 2017 / 8:58 pm

        The ones I visited were in Northern California, July, high desert and there was snow nearby. Quite an experience.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. rosemawrites May 24, 2017 / 2:54 am

    you write visually my dear Lill! 😉 and i love the innards part. hehe. beautifully done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 24, 2017 / 6:23 am

      Thank you! Smiling I am and about to get my morning cup and get over to reading about others who have gone underground for this prompt!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. sarahsouthwest May 24, 2017 / 4:59 am

    Wow. Big stuff, very powerful. It sounds amazing. This poem shows us the strength that was there, and the power of nature. It makes me feel so small.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian May 24, 2017 / 6:24 am

      Oh yes, I so agree. This trip where we were in the Norwegian Fjords and in Iceland gave me that exact feeling….looking up at the fjords I felt like a speck in time….same thing in these lava fields.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Teresa May 24, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    Love that you have a real life experience to inspire the poem! It would be fascinating to visit. Love the personification of her temper unleashed.


  14. colorfulpen May 24, 2017 / 11:13 pm

    Beautifully written. And I love the photos of your experiences.


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