Hraunfossar – a poem by Sara Letourneau


What happens when you see a waterfall?
Do you reach out to let its mist land on your skin?
Shout of its magnificence to your fellow tourists?
Or do you do nothing because of
what stirs inside and is beyond your control?
This “lava falls,” as it’s known in Icelandic,
greeted me like a friend moments ago
when I stepped off the bus,
its salutation crashing like cymbals
yet hushed and rain-steady.
Now I follow the black-soil path,
reach the bend where the cliff overlooks the river,
and a swell dams my throat.
This waterfall is not like others;
not a tall, singular cascade,
but a long, sprawling multitude,
hundreds of rivulets seeping out of the lava field
into the rapids below.
On and on it flows, and I stand before it,
heart overflowing, because suddenly
I’m not here on the cliff but across the river,
where the porous rock and the glacial melt
are washing my body to the marrow,
scrubbing me clean of hurts I had borne across an ocean,
and my hands and fingers have spread
into the ledges from which those waters leap
and carry the toxins and dead cells of self away.
How do you respond then, when the world
becomes both healer and teacher?
Do you return to a sheltered, stagnant life after this?
Or do you simply go on like the waterfall,
always moving, always whispering,
always persevering?


Sara Letourneau is a poet, freelance editor / writing coach, and columnist at the writing resource website DIY MFA. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Muddy River Poetry Review, Canary, The Curry Arts Journal, Soul-Lit, Eunoia Review, Underground Voices, and elsewhere. She lives in Massachusetts.


  1. johntshea says:

    Evocative and provocative, Sara! With a great rhetorical question at the end!

    Liked by 1 person

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