Monday, July 29, 2019

Legacy, Revised

The oldest memory i can call upon
is the fast burning of nylon and polyester
if i think long enough
sit still enough
i can still see those stars begging to be freed from the fire of their bars
i was three
barely old enough to call upon the gods in my name
and yet
was marching attentively in the name of so many others

My father has soft knuckles 
a slight limp
and calluses on the tips of his fingers
he is not versed in the language of carpentry
but can build you a song with the flood of revolution bursting from his bones
he is made of language and melody
born of moʻolelo and promise
he is the honesty of scripture we are all trying to chase

The first time i heard the word sovereignty 
i shouted it at the top of my lungs
that all we needed were a few more voices
a little more volume
just a little more time


In the last 10 years i have watched
some of our most treasured leaders either die 
or lose themselves in their own minds
most of them
i am sure
are fighting for their memories 
the way we remember them fighting for this ʻāina


I’m not sure why 
i ever thought we'd stop dying 


My father tells students that he believes in justice
in literature
and truth
i know my father believes in something else too
because we were born of the same twine
the kind that finds it hard not to have faith in the goodness of others
i think a part of him 
will sit with a part of me
waiting for someone else
anyone, really 
to understand


Some days, 
i’m not sure if the academic in me
still believes in sovereignty 
some mornings i am awaken by my own cynicism
terrified of what i have become
terrified of what my father would think of me
i wonder if he would regret any part of his loving and raising me

And then I wake on a mauna 

In the piko of a pu’uhonua that has demonstrated ea in every way that I could ever imagine 

And I am left with the overwhelming need 

To never leave 

This place of refuge 

If there is ever a day when 
the child in me
finally forgets the stench of melting nylon 
the burn of fire on skin
and the salt of shame under
what can be said of my father and the gods i carry in the tongue of my name
what can be said of Papa

every woman whose power is locked in a language frozen by colonization
what can be say of this body
of every single memory therein 


I try not to think too hard these days 
about the things i believe
try to let ocean inside of me
stay settled every once and while
try not to worry my own conscious into combustion 
but i know there are questions 
i cant dare to answer alone
cant dare to decipher without uncovering 
a little more of the shame i have tried so hard to forget

Every line of this poem
is something i've tried to hide
the way they fall out of me now
doesn’t seem right

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