Dancing In The Belly

Text Donovan Kūhiō Colleps

Turn to the left, Ma says.
So I pierce sea with pen
to pivot, and sweet
potatoes roll against our feet.

Her arm outstretched
her hand a shaka, waiting,
hoping for fingers
to feel horizon’s
love for north star.

Tūtū is in the belly
playing Hawaiian vinyl
from the '60s and '70s
and her eyes are fixed
far away, searching for him.

Grandchildren are crouched
at the edges with their hoodies
up and their phones blinking
at the doze of a falling sun.

My pen is bleeding into the sea
with every stroke and the mail
man motors by flinging mortgages
and medical bills damp and salty.

I keep paddling.

A man swam by yesterday
and said, “This way
to a New Oceania!”
And I spent all night
explaining to Ma
who he was and how
we should listen to him.

The grandchildren weren’t convinced
and Tūtū forgot her name and the last
edge of light burned our backs
before dipping into today.

Turn a bit to the right, Ma says.
So I write the words ‘ākau
li‘ili‘i on the shimmer
and her shaka fits perfectly
between the two lovers.

I think this is the way, Ma says.
And I look back, noticing
the marks of our journey
etched in the currents.

The grandchildren, curious,
turn off their phones and stand
to look at where we’ve been.

Their eyes slit, seeking
the farthest word
they can see.

Tūtū stands up, too,
and dances in the belly
to Genoa Keawe.

We may already be there, I say.
We may already be here.


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