Dangerous Ground
Colleen Coyne

Recently, it began again.

Vibrations, surface wave motion, audible thumps—
then the solitary roar
as superheated stone dries and crumbles.

New bubbles form. Thin crusts conceal scalding water.

You are here.


A layer of sinter on tree skeletons, that gray workshirt laundered
through clotted steam vents.

A kind of tomb-building, slow as centuries.

This might be some lost lame planet. A mobile’s single swinging object—
useless machine.

From afar it is an island, a bobbing mass, lost anchor.

You can almost touch it.


Wear your acid boots.

Your dormant hot cone.

Your bacteria-chain apron with lace-edged pools.

Let your hair down. We’re all thermophiles here.


Then, you feel sick.

Beneath the skin of your skull, a network of fractures and fissures forms.

If you feel sick, leave. Leave your body immediately.


Imagine you were here, at the canary spring.

You, who won the beauty pool—whose water is hottest. Yellow/colorless—
whose plumes most delicately curl.

You are a single stroke across a muddied palette, a new pattern of drinkable gold.

The underside of a black fan. A mirror to the morning glory. A mortal.

You are the wind as it shifts the steam toward the trees. And it may have shifted again.

Between the tellings, another eruption.


They say you can predict it.

At the end of the trail, I sit on a sagging wooden bench.

And wait for the black sand to sing.

Colleen Coyne is the author of the chapbook Girls Mistaken for Ghosts (dancing girl press, 2015), and her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Cream City Review, DIAGRAM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, So to Speak, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. She lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches writing and works as a freelance writer and editor.