Sunday, May 16, 2010


All that is lacking here
is the silence of snow.
It decks the peaks
of Mauna Kea occasionally--
sometimes even Hualalai
and Mauna Loa--but it
is a guest, a fleeting traveler
on its way to a place
that will sustain it.

We float mid-pacific,
laced 'round with rain forest
and waterfalls. There is ever
the coo of doves, ever the shriek
of koki frogs by moonlight.
When it rains in Kohala
the drops are heavy, laden
with the endowment of the ancients.
In Waimea the rain comes like mist
off the sea but with the force
of the upcountry wind.
Ka Makani in fits and starts.

In this place
we know nothing of that kind
of silence.When the air is heavy
with mango and plumeria,
hot and close and absent of
movement, there are still the antics
of the dragonflies, the call of the
myna bird who knows nothing of
south. She nests perennially in her
Hawaiian home, only peripherally
aware of having come from somewhere
else--following the canoes of men
who would know what the vast ocean
held out to them. Men who would
become this land, their bones singing
from volcanic tombs.

Seasonal splendor and the silence
of snow--these are reserved for places
other. Ours is the sound of things
growing, seeds splitting, shoots breaking
the earth and unfurling their green
beneath a cloudless sky. Ours is the chant
of the elders whose hands rap the gourd
and whose voices remind us of
the mythology of the real. Wahine
move to this rhythm, eyes ablaze
with Pele's promise, ti leaf skirts
whispering against sinewy brown calves.
Their hands tell the stories of the ancients,
and the keiki kneel at their feet, listening
with their bodies.

The silence of snow fills the ears of those
who choose it. There, on the other side
of the globe. We are vaguely aware
as we move between these places
of the polar relationship between ice
and lava, contemplation and expression,
silence and sound.

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