Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Wayfinder (for Melanesian Navigator Mau Piailug)

The Wayfinder fixes the horizon
peels the layers of celestial orange
from top to bottom
notes the iridescent clouds
that hint lagoons
and unwrap storms
a white helix of shorebirds
with flapping silver beaks
on long journeys to short mouths
he traces the midnight of ocean rivers

Conducts the concerto of stars
with a cranial compass
points a 20 foot baton at Polaris
swaying arms and sails

På mai, på mai ka makani nui o Hilo
Blow, blow, great wind of Hilo
Bring the big wind gourd

listens for the humpback's French horn
the cymbal hiss of water
lapping hulls of the Hokule'a.

Always aim for the archipelago
never an island
in community you will find your way.

Blindfolded by the blackest nights
he was never alone
or lonely
reached down to the infrared
of volcanos breathing
the bullet movements of tangs
believed and loved what he couldn't see.
When your guiding star is shrouded
and all you have is your dream -
the island in your mind's eye,
the Wayfinder said
"Keep that image in your mind
if you lose it, you're going to be lost."

Lost as their centuries at sea
and each tide called more
of the old ones to the reef
returned waves of questions
of who would lead their people
from the next great flood
that tugged relentlessly.

Ho’i i ke kai
Wa’a Høküle'a
Eø, é ka wa'a

Return to the sea
the canoe Høküle'a.
Canoe, answer to this call.

Streaming orchids and harmonies
he sailed with the next generation
from Hawa'ii to Tahiti
Survival is more
than voyaging
or protecting our shores
but knowing when
to leave our island
and seek the archipelago.

Yasmeen Najmi

© 2010 Yasmeen Najmi

No comments:

Post a Comment