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Kissing the Opelu

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For my grandmother

I am water, only because you are the ocean.

We are here, only
because old leaves have been falling.

A mulching of memories folding
into buried hands.

The cliffs we learn to edge.
The tree trunk hollowed, humming.

I am a tongue, only because
you are the body planting stories with thumb.

Soil crumbs cling to your knees.
Small stacks of empty clay pots dreaming.

I am an air plant suspended, only
because you are the trunk I cling to.

I am the milky fish eye, only
because it’s your favorite.

Even the sound you make
when your lips kiss the opelu
socket is a mo‘olelo.

A slipper is lost in the yard.
A haku lei is chilling in the icebox.

I am a cup for feathers, only
because you want to fill the hours.

I am a turning wrist, only
because you left the hose on.

Heliconias are singing underwater.
Beetles are floating across the yard.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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Kissing the Opelu

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