Warning: This poem discusses natural disasters.
It's easy to forget
the sleeping serpents
and the slumbering dragons
beneath the crust of the continent.
People only pay attention to the ones
that grumble in their sleep, turning over
now and then or hissing steam.
They think about the San Andreas,
but they don't recall the Cascadia,
and when the subduction zone goes,
They think that the Yellowstone Caldera
is nothing more than natural fountains
and rings of rainbow algae.
They don't think about the two mountain ranges
like the crusts of a pizza pulling slowly apart
as the cheese between them sags
toward the burner of the oven,
and when the caldera goes,
except for the geologists
who have seen the ghostly maps
of the way the continent has been shaped
and reshaped through the ages,
that "North America" has just as often
been more like East America and West America,
with the Gulf of Mexico reaching up to Canada.
The continental plates shimmy atop
a sea of molten rock, always moving,
but so slowly that they seem still.
The serpents twine between them,
and the dragons curl beneath them.
The mystery of it is, we don't know
when it will happen, or if it will happen.
We know some things are more likely
than others, but there is no way to be sure.
The only thing we know for certain is that
any one of them awakening might rouse
the others, and if enough rise at once,
* * *
Read about the Cascadia earthquake.
The Yellowstone Caldera is another hotspot for trouble.
In the mid-Cretaceous, America was divided as in this map. Here is a whole set of plate tectonic maps.