Wednesday, July 15, 2009

the lone and level sea

I dedicated this poem to Liz Ruther because I am so grateful to her for letting me use her laptop so much. I am VERY, VERY grateful. I am only sorry it is not a better poem. Thank you Liz!

the lone and level sea
For Liz Ruther


this is the eighth land
the last safe place
the world is quiet here (except
in the morning when the roosters all crow
or when the discos open on Saturday nights
this is Hau Maka’s vision
Hotu Matua’s dream
a land where the people
would not die many
when the big waves came
and they do come—
tossing 10-ton ancestors
across the craps table where old
Tongariki village stood
Ure a Vai a Nuhe’s canted throw
good for google-eyed tourists and
the Chilean chainsaw archaeologist
cracked eyeless vessels
not much use for Tupahotu ancestors
cheap concrete leaves their spirits mute
yet when the waves recede
young men stroll down Atamu Tekena
strumming ukes and guitars
and an ad hoc combo jams behind the
Aloha Cafe
not all waves are water though
and seven years show their wake
more coral trees
more cars more restaurants
more bars
everywhere more color
every few doors construction
hotel additions renovations new
storefronts hammers and power drills
young men boisterous at work
too loud stereos Topatangi Sinatra Chilean rap
young vahine laugh
outside on the stairs
yet these are only islands
in the quiet
the winds mutes them
everything here
belongs to the wind


the basic equations are simple here—
sea, sky, land
scissors, paper, rock...
te vai te rangi te henua
te henua cuts te vai
te vai wraps te rangi
te rangi
te henua


across the shallow lake
in the south branch of Ana te Pahu:
near the end of the cave
an avocado tree stands
on a crumbling stone platform
stretching up through a skylight
silver-white sun pours around it
bathing its crown


There are no avocados on the tree
that would be too much to ask

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