Morning rises on Lake Batur, Bali.
Lake View by Peter Bishop
The mist has lifted now as I sit on the terrace of Lakeview Hotel — Batur has emerged in all her magnificence, as if to say — did you doubt?
And the trucks are grinding up the flanks of the crater that surrounds her.
It is a relentless, remorseless extraction of her congealed blood — the black basalt flow that has frozen on her southern hip, and it goes on all day, every day, year after year.
Batur is not dead.
She slumbers with one half-open eye — occasionally she exhales a little sigh.
She is young in geological terms — although of course she is much older than the houses that dot her flanks, the machines that pick at her scabs, the people who pester her.
One day she might decide to shrug them off.
You can see the ring of escarpments around her that her mother built when she was born, and beyond that a second ring that might have been her great great grandmother — ancient beyond comprehension.
And yet, even so, Batur and all her ancestors are infants in the scheme of global geology. This place and everything about it captures me. It has a monumental and awesome beauty on a village scale — Batur has an intimate grandeur that I have not seen elsewhere.
Busloads of people arrive during the day when she has withdrawn her splendour like an anemone withdrawing its tender tentacles.
They wear shorts and socks and sandshoes and loud shirts and they have their photos taken against her sleeping head and they eat their lunches on the balcony with their backs to her, and they leave.
In their buses, their fleets of numbered hire cars — they are in a hurry — there are sights to see, schedules to keep.
They did not see her rising naked from her bed of mist and clouds, they did not see the shimmer of the early morning in the lake at her foot, the skim of hungry herons, the drift of dugout fishermen, the gathering of workers wrapped against the cold — except for their thonged feet.
I sit here on the cusp of her cradle, sipping her thick dark coffee, wondering if that murmur was the pulse of her unguessable heart.
Peter Bishop is an award winning short story writer, poet and retired wagyu farmer, as well as a frequent flyer with Writer’s Journey. When he is not travelling and writing with us in various locations, he spends his time between Scone, NSW and Palm Beach, Sydney.
Photos and writing from our Backstage Bali retreat.