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Forty years ago today – May 18th, 1980 – Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington State, killing 57 people, including one of my dearest friends, her husband, and her two young children. Most of those who died were camping in the supposed “safe zone” around the mountain. No one imagined that the volcano would explode sideways to the north, ending the lives of those who thought they weren’t in danger. (100 miles away in the Seattle area we heard two explosions, like sonic booms.)

Barb was always full of laughter, always saw the funny side of life. The poem below was written shortly after her death.  (This is a re-post.)

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Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, at 0...

Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980

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(In memory of Barbara Pierce Morris Seibold, 1947 – 1980)

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You laughed above the heads

of those who couldn’t see

your wings,

but those of us with vision

always flew along with you.

Even in the rain

you’d soar above the mud

with a smile and a wink.

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But just this once

your takeoff was too slow —

St. Helens grabbed you

in her smoky claws

and with one spicy belch

she burned your wings away….

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I found a bird

the cat brought in,

buried it

in forget-me-nots,

then heard your laughter

rise from the dust

and fly

to the curlicue clouds.

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(c)1980, 2020 Betty Hayes Albright

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She stifled her passion

with a bone cork

and Earth became

a rocking jug

with aching sides

and tears that leaked

through cracks

and there was naught

but a dry brown light

across the sky.

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The gods looked down

and cursed.

They pulled loose the plug

and ground it to dust

with flying fists

until Earth trembled

and roared

its mountainous heat

into the sky

in a billowing boundless fount

of love un-damned.

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(c)  1995, 2017  Betty Hayes Albright

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eruption_mount_st_helens_05-18-80

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Where’s your dance, old tree?

The music blows,

let’s see you sway,

I long to hear

your rustling green.

Did winter tighten up your knots

and sap your limbs so soon?

What’s this?

It seems Pan left you

tail tucked between his legs

when he saw the horizon

turning black

instead of blue.

And now I too

must hurry off

to find my cave and pray

that the dawn

will turn our mourning

into day.

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(c) 1980, 2014 Betty Hayes Albright

.Written in March, 1980 – two months before Mt. St. Helens erupted, on May 18th. A premonition, perhaps….

57 people were killed, including my close friend Barbara Pierce Seibold.

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Sometimes a mountain

shakes loose

its deeply rooted trees,

old riverbeds,

the tramping of calloused feet.

It spews out fire and ash,

declares itself free

of expectation.

There is blood-letting

as lava streams down

into the lakes

cooking fish and lilies,

boiling off complacency.

It is the wish

of Gaia.

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Be careful

when you try

to move a mountain –

but never stop climbing.

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© 2013 Betty Hayes Albright 

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32 years ago today, Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington State, killing 57 people, including one of my dearest friends, her husband, and her two young children. Barb was always full of laughter, always saw the funny side of life.

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The poem below was written shortly after her death:

.

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, at 0...

Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980

.

.

(In memory of Barb Pierce Morris Seibold, 1947 – 1980)

 .

You laughed above the heads

of those who couldn’t see

your wings,

but those of us with vision

always flew along with you.

Even in the rain

you’d soar above the mud

with a smile and a wink.

 .

But just this once

your takeoff was too slow.

St. Helens grabbed you

in her smoky claws,

and with one spicy belch

she burned your wings away….

 .

I found a bird

the cat brought in,

buried it

in forget-me-nots.

I heard your laughter

rising from the dust

and then it flew

to the curlicue clouds.

.

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(c)1980, 2017 Betty Hayes Albright

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For another “Barb” poem (written 2-1/2 months before she died):  https://raindancepoetry.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/down-moon-river-on-a-cement-slab/

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“Down Moon River on a Cement Slab” *

           To Barbara Pierce Morris Seibold   (1947 – 1980)

(Written for my dear friend Barb, who died in the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980, along with her husband and two children. She always made me laugh, always found the humor in any situation.  This poem was given to her on her 33rd birthday, just two months before she died. It was meant to be a short biography of our long friendship, but it has become more of a memorial celebration of her short life. The last verse was added after she died.) (Added 5/2013: and now another 33 years has flown by….)

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We had a frog called Inky-Dink

until the pond went dry

and it was time

to go to school.

We threw our homework

in the mud

and laughed

Barb (on right) – we were 15.

at Mrs. Eagle-Eye.

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I slammed your finger

in the locker door,

your nail turned

black and blue.

You laughed

and drained it with a pin

that had a different

point of view.

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Then walking home

we yelled at muddy trucks

that splashed our knees

with scum,

and laughing, kicked

fresh Girl Scout cookies

down the street

to spite the crumbs.

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On Saturdays

we shopped downtown,

they couldn’t keep us

on the ground.

I lost you

on the 13th floor

but always heard you laughing

through the elevator door.

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Dick’s fries were still 11 cents

we ate them

in your green corvair

and laughed and sang

to KJR

then chased some boys

but not too far.

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Once on a dare

we broke into

the secret tunnel

beneath the school.

Our stockings snagged

on gurgling pipes

we swore the air grew hotter

but all the time

we laughed our alma mater.

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After senior finals

you threw your gym shoes

from the car.

They landed on a frowning cop

who didn’t want to celebrate.

You laughed

at the $30 fine

and went to graduate.

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One day we met

with shining rings

and home grown bellies

laughing at the years gone by.

We drove to show

a favorite teacher

how we’d learned to multiply.

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added a few months later, after Barb died in the eruption of Mt. St. Helens:

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No roadblocks ever

held you back

how could you know St. Helen’s

would have heartburn on that day?

She belched,

I felt the earth shake

when you died

and all was ash.

But somehow

from deep inside

I know you’ll have the final laugh.

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© 1979, 1980,

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*  Title comes from the time a DJ on the radio said, “And now we’re gonna float down moon river on a cement slab” as he spun the popular song “Moon River”. We laughed till we cried. (Guess you would’ve had to be there. 🙂 )

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