The Wheel

Living on the edge of a volcano, Leonard Michaels catches a glimpse of the sublime.

Leonard Michaels

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© Andreas HeumannSometime in the early eighties, I spent a few weeks in Hawaii, living in a cabin near the crater of the volcano called Kiluaea. Trees, flowers, and birds were all about. The daylight had a kind of spiritual purity. Nights had a softness that was not pure, but sensuously heartbreaking. Best of all, where I lived, high up near the crater, the nights were too cool for mosquitoes, so I slept deeply, undisturbed. I’d never lived in a lovelier or more potentially violent place. The cabin was close to the rim of the crater, which was still active, seething wisps of steam. I looked into the crater every day on my walks. Rock walls dropped steeply for hundreds of feet, forming a wide and awesome hole. The effect was magnificent, terrifying, too tremendous for the mind to assimilate.

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