Fall 1979 • Vol. I No. 4 PoetryOctober 1, 1979 |

aa

Lava which breaks up as it cools is called aa (ai a); lava which on cooling retains a smooth, river-like surface is called pahoehoe (pa ho * a ho- a). The Hawaiian heiau (ha e u), or temple, is an enclosure formed by a low stone wall sometimes made of pieces of aa. I want to be pahoehoe, swirled, intricately lined, folded, frozen where I flowed, a clear brazened surface one can cross barefooted, it's true; but even more, I want to be, ah me ! aa, churned rubble still tumbling after I've stopped, which a person without shoes has to do deep knee-bends across, groaning "aaaah ! aaaah !" at each step, or be heaped up into a heiau in sea-spray on an empty coast, knowing in all my joints the soft, crablice-ish clasp of aa crumbling closer to aa. And when I reach the dismal shore all made, I know, of pahoehoe, which is just hoi polloi of the slopes, I don't want to call, "ahoy ! ahoy !" and sail meekly in. Unh-unh.  I want to turn and look back at that glittering world of blac

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Galway Kinnell was the author of ten books of poetry, including The Book of Nightmares, When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone, Imperfect Thirst, and most recently A New Selected Poems and Strong is Your Hold.

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By Galway Kinnell

Lava which breaks up as it cools is called aa (ai a); lava which on cooling retains a smooth, river-like surface is called pahoehoe (pa ho * a ho- a). […]

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