From Lāhaina Noon
Today, I’m a shadowless man.
The sun calls me into the street,
and I walk alone into the light
of noon. The moment has come.
I stand quietly on Front Street
balancing the sun on my head.
My shadow crawls in my ear
to hide in the small, dark world
of my skull. The sun illuminates
the shadow in my skin, and I shine
like a second moon, reflecting
all the light I cannot contain.
Lovers on Pūlehu Road, Between the Sugar Mill
and the Maui County Dump
His beat-up green pickup faces Haleakalā, her thrashed
Celica toward K-Mart, on the shoulder of Pūlehu Road. The lovers
stand in roadside mud, arms encircling
each other, gazing over a field of sugar cane at two boiling columns
of smoke rising from the mill. They stand too close to be casual,
toes dirtied where they hang over the slipper’s edge.
The afternoon reveals they should not be here, should not be
together, that only half their hearts attempt
to conceal their meeting. I drive past, but they do not look over,
knowing everyone on the island knows everyone else.
Not wanting to see themselves seen, their heads remain turned away.
My windows are down, and the stink of the dump rattles
white plastic bags tangled in kiawe trees.
I’m glad they let me pass without a glance. I don’t want to know
whose wife she is or who his children are
or recognize a Safeway cashier or a meter-reader for Maui Electric.
My mirror shows unmoved lovers embracing
beneath ragged, windy limbs as trash cartwheels across the road.
They know the road to the dump is far too public
for a lover’s lane, and they have not forgotten their families
and their friends drive this red-stained, two-lane blacktop
to throw away what they no longer want, what they have used
beyond use, and all the many things they have broken.
Victoria’s Astronomy Lesson
The night’s dark upcountry. Hold my hand tight. There’s
Polaris, low in the sky over opuntia and telephone lines.
The astronomers say that when we gaze into the night,
we are looking back in time. All the stars we see are
not where we see them, and we are the only ones
to see those lights shine where they shine in our sky.
I smile because you’re newly nine, and I’m time passing.
This little grin covers the fear and cheer in one less day
every day. Mine is an age when every moment marks me.
Tonight, watching that fat toad bounce his chubby butt
across the driveway nearly made me weep. I’m all right.
There’s comfort in constant stars and a cool breeze
from the mountain. All the nonsense about time whines
in my ear as we open the whole starstruck sky together
and touch the constellations one by one. Astronomers
tell us everything in the universe is falling away from us,
and when I hold your hand, I wonder how I will ever find
the strength to let it all go, if I don't hold tight right now.