Tagi Qolouvaki

lolomaloha: fruit for aiko

this pomelo is a poema canoe
fleshed of poetreefor distances
for sistering and brothering
i meankin-ship
for travel across this
our blue skin

this pomelo is
a setting off star-shipping
with dried seeds, smoked fish
and fresh coconutgenealogies
to story ourselves     a/niu

this jabong is a camakau
sunset pink translated
your citrused
tongue to minefriend-ship  

steered by talanoa
wayfinding with lolomaloha
na ʻāina momona

(for Tere)
Kokoda-making is a homecoming
to Sunday feasts on sweltering Fijian afternoons
miti-soaked bele
ika and dalo
with lemon, salt, and chili.
Kokoda making is a homecoming
calls to mum and aunties across datelines
searching for names of fish
in mother tongue.

In San Francisco
Una and I
lacking a machete or even a butcher knife
slam Safeway coconuts against concrete stair edges,
rush to capture the juice
before it runs into the street below
our laughter a tropical sun.
Kokoda making is an act of love;
cubing fish into mouthfuls
juicing fistfuls of lemon
coconut scraper straddled,
cupping white fruit to metal teeth
scenting the air
of earth
the lean of trees towards ocean
skin clothed in coconut oil.
Kokoda making is resilience.
In Waikīkī where the niu is stripped of fruit
I use cans of Thai lolo
I have lost my scraper en route to Hawaiʻi,
and the one at Na Mea—decorated with shell inlay—is $90
not for everyday use.

Across from the Ala Moana
my family sits down to eat at one
and finishes near midnight
a feast of kokoda, sushi, mussels with lolo
curried pork and Nikola’s fish soufflé.
We nourish ourselves with talanoa
between meal tides
stories of home
and savory gossip.
I promise myself
the next time I stop at the Fiji Market
in Kahuku for dal and roti
I will buy a new scraper.
One of these days
my kokoda will be as good as my mother’s.

detail of Diasporic Waters - Joy Enomoto - 2014
Baninnur: A Basket of Food

Tagi Qolouvaki is Fijian/Tongan on her mum’s side and German/English American on her dad’s—altogether a very mixed, queer, and feminist Pacific Islander. Born and raised in Fiji by a few beautiful men and many powerful women, she migrated to the United States at sixteen and is currently a PhD candidate in Pacific literature at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.