Grey Ocean, Grey SkyYou were so quiet, standing looking over the waves,
so many years ago, I've forgotten how many,
long before we fought over trivialities and held grudges.
Strange, how the sky turned a shade of grey,
creating one vast tableau of ships and ocean.
You turned to me and said, ‘I will not forget this.
In years to come, if I’m dissatisfied with my life, remind me.
Tell me there was a time when everything framed perfectly.’
You were about to say more, but the sea withdrew and I woke up.
For days afterward, you reappeared in a puff of engine smoke,
a gull’s cry over the ocean. I imagined I heard your voice
merging with the gull’s, creating one wave, one map of the world.
Light Leaks Under the DoorYou’re an unwelcome presence.
Vacant doesn't mean rooms for rent, but
since you’re here, look around,
not much has changed.
Same sour-milk walls.
Sink's still clogged, but the
stove and fridge work fine,
and the neighborhood has no
history of violence (after that
Yes, go haunt the garden, mind the
broken steps, that bougainvillea called lipstick red
reminds me of a pole-dancer the way
it winds around everything—
obscene, isn’t it?
You left a lamp on last time you came.
Please don’t do that;
when light leaks under the door
naturally, I think someone
waits inside for me to
shed my sandals,
drop the gun, enter
and be forgiven.
Why The Golden Plover StandsI came to learn the language of trees,
ancient tongue, nearly extinct, like the
Hawaiian crow or shave-ice shacks on
Like-Like Highway where Aloha Gas now sits.
I came expecting koa trees and palms,
I found instead an old brick chimney wall,
golden plover standing beside it, motionless
though he can fly 3,000 miles from Alaska,
Like the plover, I came expecting more.
Menacing NightWhat craziness takes you out tonight?
Moonlight will hit your car windshield. Hard.
Crows will rise above the trestle,
turn, look directly at you.
Do not think of them as birds.
Island EyesLiving in the tropics, time slows, bends,
even crawls backwards.
Summer is never ending.
Seasons change when papayas ripen,
gardenias come into bloom.
Anything might happen here.
A rare wild orchid will open delicate petals
in a slice of dirt under the freeway.
Gorgeous birds, once thought extinct,
might land on the tarmac at hilo airport.
Passengers speeding by in rented cars will not notice.
You alone will see brilliant feathers,
observe the myths rising in mountain air.
My Father Dreams of ShipsMy father remembers ancient banyan trees.
He sees ghosts in the tall temple grass,
smells rain on abandoned sugar cane.
He watches the ocean and waits.
My father sees a tall ship in Honolulu Harbor,
silent and crewless, bobbing with the waves,
and thinks it waits for him.
Listen, I tell him, that ship is all in your mind
but he counters, You see it too—
and it's true, I see it, pale and shifting
like Molokai sands.
My father remembers ships in flames,
torpedoes flying over the Ko'olau.
He sees a young girl pin a hibiscus
behind her left ear as she descends the stairs.
Trading PlacesGradually, she became my daughter.
She leans on me now—slim novella
resting against a solid, reassuring cookbook.
Is this what my life will be now? Offering coffee,
opening mail, pointing at pretty birdies.
Because she has a fear that can’t be quenched,
I am with her. Someone is always with her.
She peers around corners,
shyly, she looks at me for explanation.
If only I had one.
She woke up one day, in a forest, and
did not recognize her surroundings.
An entire lifetime was gone.
One minute, a blonde college girl,
next minute, a near-centenarian,
not sure where the kitchen is.
She remembers trillium in springtime;
her twin brother’s car, but not his name.
She thinks I will abandon her.
It’s touching to see her reach out and poke me.
Am I real?
All I can give now are reassurances and lies.
There is nothing to fear, Mother.
Nothing at all.
Trish Saunders: Qualities of Light
Part of the PoetryCircle Showcase series.
I am stunned by the stark beauty of these poems, Trish. The second was really hurtful for so many reasons. The last one hit home, my mother died July 2014, our last days were fraught and sad. All of these, so good. And Pearl Harbor! Having just passed the anniversary of the event, it's fresh in my mind. Obviously for someone who lived it, it's still fresh in their minds even more powerfully.
Wow -- this is an impressive collection. Each piece is individually moving in its own way, but in particular "Grey Ocean, Grey Skies," "Island Eyes," and "Trading Places" really stood out to me. I really felt the somber romantic air of "Grey Ocean, Grey Skies," it tugged at more than one heartstring.
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