by Tania Runyan
Yellowstone National Park
We creak on boardwalks above geothermal pools—
Black Opal, Morning Glory, Emerald Spring.
Clear and bright as cups of Easter dye,
they sputter and hiss to remind us that we stand
atop a caldera heaving molten rock.
Each path begins with the illustrated warning:
a boy in a baseball cap breaks through the surface,
parboiling his feet. I hear the story about the 9-year-old
who lost himself in the steam and plunged into Crested Pool.
They recovered just eight pounds of his body.
Or the man who swan-dived into Celestine Pool
after a yelping dog, emerging with blanched irises.
That was dumb, he mumbled for his last words,
skin peeling in sheets. Thousands of years ago
the first hunter to wander into this basin
must have thought he discovered a second sky
breaking through the ground, a miracle of sorts,
if he knew about those, radiating in the snow.
He laughed, bent his face over the rising steam,
and thought nothing of reaching in.