The Story of Lava

The Story of Lava
 

I like how the title makes the poem more unexpected. Soap is not what I immediately thought of when I read the word "Lava," though it adds a certain humor when the reader gets into the poem and sees what the narrator is referring to. -Sarah Branz, age 20

Every time I smell Lava soap it is 1948.

This has always fascinated us, how a scent can bring us back through time to a specific moment. -Kyle Auston, age 24
I can definitely relate to this poem because I strongly associate memories with smell. One whiff of a certain brand of lotion will send me to my high school trip to England, or a certain kind of juice will transport me to summertime at my grandparents’ house when I was really young. The narrator’s association between soap and this memory of his father therefore makes a lot of sense. -Laura Crouch, age 20
The reader is not sure what to expect in this line. The scent of Lava soap could be anything, could send us anywhere. But the speaker tells us at the end it is “1948,” and we are catapulted back in time. -Heather Bulliss, age 21

My father is bending over a long sink in the 

pressroom of The Sioux City Journal at 5 A.M., 


The specificity of this line sets the scene. We are in the “pressroom of The Sioux City Journal at 5 A.M.” in 1948. -Heather Bulliss

his grey long-underwear peeled down over his 

white belly, a thin bar of Lava tumbling over 

and over slowly in his ink-stained hands. 

The morning news has passed through his hands 


“News” has a double meaning here. It is the physical newspaper itself, staining his hands, and it is the intangible news itself, the stories the paper tells about. -Heather Bulliss

out into the morning streets into the hands 


So much detail deliberately conveyed in a succinct, unassuming way. Carefully selected descriptions render an authentic portrait of the speaker's father. There's a genuine sentiment relayed in this poem. The man washing his "ink-stained hands" in attempt to erase the morning news is an image of outstanding force of subtlety. -Z.G. Tomaszewski, age 22

of sleepy boys who fold it a certain way and 

fling it on porches and steps, but that is not 


The word "fling" makes the boys seem sleepy and unfocused, like they are too tired to properly throw it. -Daisy Hall, age 14

my story. Lava is my story and the morning 

news that Lava can’t rub off. It is my father 

bending over a sink, a thin bar of Lava tumbling 


The repetition of “Lava,” “over,” “news,” “morning,” and “hands” creates a rhythm throughout the poem. It keeps the poem moving forward but at a steady pace. It emphasizes the movements of the father and the images the speaker wants us to dwell on. -Heather Bulliss

over and over and over slowly in his cloudy hands.

This poem is my favorite of Evan’s I feel like I am let into an intimate ritual that not many are allowed to see, I can understand more about his perspective on life and on his family. -Rachel McGuinness, age 20
Repetition is important in this poem. The repetition of "hands" and Lava soap "tumbling over and over and over". The speaker's story is really an ordinary instant captured with an imaginative mind. -Z.G.Tomaszewski
A short poem, but yet there is so much at work here: an exploration of ties between scent and memory, the largeness of the speaker’s father’s occupation, the permenance of the past. What seems on the surface to be simple is really an onion of a poem.-Kyle Austin
The speaker insists the “story” is about the soap. But the poem ends not on the soap itself, but on an image of the speaker’s father and his hands. This is the story of the poem: the father, the hands. The soap simple assists in bringing the reader to this moment. -Heather Bulliss
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.