Pyroclast

The lamps keep swaying, fully unaware:
is our light lying?
Is night the only reality
that has endured through thousands of years?

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Night

The Hawaiians have two terms for lava: pahoehoe and a’a. The former refers to ripples of liquid lava, while the latter refers to chunks that erupt from the volcano.  The words were derived from the screams of pain and agony when one traverses the lava barefoot.

We were left under the mercy of wind and water before.  Almost two decades after Pinatubo, we are left under the mercy of fire and stone.  One can survive a storm, but not a volcanic eruption.

The governor has been doing a great job in evacuations, the government doing its best to convince the people to move out of the danger zone.  Yet if there’s any emotionally-scarring memory of Pinatubo, it’s the memory of families losing their homes and starting from scratch.  It’s the sight of green fields wiped out by burning rock and mud.  It’s the knowledge that we have yet again humbled by Nature.

I watched the TV newscast from the bus.  Angry Mayon can erupt within days, they said.  On the one hand, there may be a bit of mercy left in this year, fraught with death and disaster as it is.  On the other hand, the volcano may just explode.  The river of flame flowed down from the sides of the near-perfect cone, threatening to cause devastation on the danger zone.  I resolved to set some money aside to help the cause should it be needed, but there’s that feeling of helplessness yet again.  Could we weather the possibility of it all?

Just not today, Mayon.  Not on Christmas.

* – Picture courtesy of the Associated Press and the BBC.

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