Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gullfoss, Geysir, and Secret Lagoon

water triumphant

Iceland feels new:
the North American and European plates
seem to repel each other,
as they pull apart, they open up the Earth
to sculpt with lava
and anger water into steam,

today, east of Reykjavik,
we find where trees and fields can friendly the rawness,
where AirBnB allows us to rent a perfect home,
with the sky open as the American West,
as cloudy and drizzly as Seattle,
with a daylight that, so far north, just doesn’t want to quit,

all quiet and still, summer here brief and glorious,
as we look across the land, 
steam rises as if from industry,
or as signals of smoke,

regular reminders that the rock below is alive with heat,
a sulfur tang, often in the air and in the water,
also reminds us that rock’s story is still being told,

our first full day is of water
in a falls, in a “geysir,” and in a pool,

“Gullfoss,” on the Hvita River, is such an extraordinary waterfall
that all others I have seen seem dwarfed by its spectacle:
as the Ice Age passed into memory,
water roared through the valley 4000 years ago,
breaking through the basalt before us,
which then found the power to hold
and let the water work its will on the lower sedimentary rock,
then more basalt, then more sedimentary rock,
so the falls have terraces that then drop,

now, for thousands of years, water has roared over rock,
falling with such exuberance and grace,
that no heart can fully hold it, let along a camera,
though countless of us make the effort,
we approach toward its greatness,
yet it is transcendent,
and our steps can never quite get close enough
to really know what roars here in glory,

next we savor “Geysir,”
where every 3-7 minutes water explodes into the air,
a simmering pool that swells with a large blue bubble
which then bursts into a white fountain,

making a firmer statement, clearer to grasp,
than that of much of the land,
which around here murmurs with steam,
and easy-to-tap hot water,

we soak later in the natural heat of Iceland’s oldest pool,
“Secret Lagoon,” where cool air and warmed water
treat the body and the soul,

what a perfect day!

by Henry H. Walker

August 5, ‘17

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