- POETRY -

BEGINNING

 

Kimo Armitage

ISSUE ELEVEN | FALL 2018

I am killing the last of the chickens

when my daughter returns home

from school.

She cringes at the sight,

a sickle in my hand

feathers and blood everywhere

the innards in a cast iron pot.

I grab this hen’s feet, dip her

in the hot water three times.

I give her to my daughter who

rips off the feathers in fistfuls.

I ask her again to move with me

to Hawaii, but she declines. Good daughters

do not refuse their fathers,

but she knows I need to go alone

to fight with my demons.

She grabs my bloody hand,

leads me out to the little river

bordering our home. We look up at

Orohena, our mountain,

adorned with gardenia.

It is now thirty years ago,

a newly ordained minister

when my wife and I step lightly

on the crooked paths

at the base of the mountain

that winds to Maroto.

We pick the tiny flowers, inhale

the scent at Mara'a.

Our eyes close at the sensation,

a garland is placed on our shoulders,

leaves that tickle our eyelashes.

I arch my back from the weight,

our love, forever, Orohena.

At my farewell dinner,

my lei of gardenia tears when

I hide under the red tablecloth.

Mike is nowhere to be found

when the gorgeous dancers

come to get us, but

Ernie and I match the dancers' movements

shake after shake.

I offer "Matangi," a song for my homeland

about a wind

that carries our desires to

the one we love.

The wind hears, joins us,

our voices for the short ride

to Fa'a'a Airport.

I feel the throbbing of the night ocean,

she exhales puffs of sea mist onto me

in the airport terminal.

My back straightens.

I walk toward the plane.

Each step sturdy,

faster, until I am a different man

even my shadow

disappears in the light

from the fluorescent bulbs.

Kimo Armitage is currently working on his first collection of poems, These Shackles Fit Perfectly. These poems are inspired by internally and externally generated narratives of the Pacific and explore our willingness to remain manacled to people, places, and ideologies, including false histories.

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