Kāhea Before the Approach of Makahiki
After Selina Tusitala Marsh
Paukū ʻekahi: Inoa
Pule au nā inoa o ke akua ʻO Lono:
Lono-nui-noho-i-kawai (Great Lono living in the water) Lono-nui-akea (Great Lono in the heavens) Lono-ʻopua-kau (Lono whose place is the rain cloud) Lono-i-kapo (Lono in the night) Lono-i-ke-ao (Lono in the light or cloud) Lono-i-ke-aoʻouli (Lono in the dark black cloud) Lono-nui-ʻaniha (Lono the great angry one) Lono-kuli (Lono the deaf one) Lono-i-ka-ua-paka-lea (Lono in the spattering rain drops) Lono-i-ka-ua-loku (Lono in the pouring rain) Lono-wahine (Lono the woman) Lono-makua (Lono the parent, lighter of fire) Here the season as the rains come, before the land sighs away its thirst, before the first new moon after the rise of Makaliʻi, your return ʻO Lonoikamakahiki
Paukū ʻelua: Puaʻa
The stiff bristles of a pig
Kamapuaʻa—incarnation of Lono—
whose snout rummaged through
moist earth for all kinds of openings.
This rutting pig
whose exploits exhausted
chiefs, makaʻāinana, and Gods
moved as an insatiable vine across
these islands sprouting here
and there anxious for people
to consume and feed.
I’d take him in
dirty hooves and all,
bid him eat and eat until
ready to burst.
I’d let him have his way
all the while reminding him
how we laugh and poke fun
at his wild excursions.
This divine trouble maker
with hiwa eyes and a sly manner.
I’d pray him, too.
Paukū ʻekolu: Kino lau
ʻUala, Kumara: sweet potato.
Earth sprouted rainbow of
numerous varieties to explore
with vines that grow long
and bright across the land,
a crop to fight famine, sustain
There are rumors of ʻuala poi,
tuners cooked in coconut milk,
or steamed leaves seasoned with salt . . .
Lono, your body nourishes,
I remain thankful
aware of the good dirt
beneath my feet.
Paukū ʻehā: e hoʻi hou
Not like Captain Cook
In bloody imitation of Cortez:
a legacy of death, suffering,
and stomachs turned
dry as empty gourds.
I pray you return to places like Kahoʻolawe, Halawa
Kaneohe, Mākua, Pohakuloa, Waikīkī
places cracked from military
bombs or profit driven bulldozers
E hoʻi hou
as the long cloud
a dark shimmer before heavy rain
return as new growth to break concrete
return as puaʻa to uproot the diseased abscess on the land
E hoʻi hou
return as the one who lights the fires of Pele,
a hot touch before the wood explodes
Return so fishponds and loʻi may flourish
and we may be secure in our
source of food.
E hoʻi hou
because we have been waiting so long
afraid our prayers are a hollow gasp on the wind
The Mana of Salt
Ka Wai Huikala:
“The wai huikala or water of purification was always required in a kala (freeing) ceremony. It consisted of seawater, and if that was unobtainable, of fresh water with a little salt dropped into it.” Mary Kawena Pukui, The Polynesian Family System in Kaʻu Hawaiʻi (1950,
In the wreckage of the last words
my first boyfriend and I ever
said to one another
In New England’s frosty bite
In the hissed escape of steam through
In the wake of our first kiss
I took you for the first time, bare my back arched against winters encroach amazed at the power of your surrender
you took me the same
fast, hard, a wild moan choked in our throats as we raced into one another
after I returned home
After an uneven sleep
After morning kicked open the bleak sky,
and light clawed at the edges of my room
I woke shaken
revolted at what I let myself do to you,
at what I let you do to me,
raw throated and terrified, that morning
I took sea salt, the juice of one lemon
mixed these in warm water and drank
my body let loose
from the night before.
stomach clenched in my bed
I curled myself makai –
head to the Atlantic
feet to the Pacific –
whispered over and over
cleanse me of this shame.
Where are you from?
(Springfield : spring–summer 1997)
The first boy I lusted after,
hard – distinct
left me wanting the flavor of peaches
was the last thing on my mind
until the day it occurred to me:
I want to love him, not just sex,
That summer I nearly drowned in peach tea,
drank it over and over to keep the heat at bay.
By August I learned to shiver in a dead heat.
9:30 was a luxury against Kailua days
that raced onto the beach with 6:30 sunrise.
Coffee or tea wafted newsprint—stained
fingers over comic strips juxtaposed
against books advocating Native rights.
Guava Jam and Crack Seed lay hidden
under palm trees while music scented
its way up the hill.
Bus routes breezed over mountain highways
Past fresh greenery, cemeteries and royal homes.
Bird of paradise always seemed ready to take flight
and the poetry of that summer
never let up until footsteps
shuffled heavily onto the airplane.