the big fish i live on writhes
knowing its ancestor 
fills up with smoke 
but it’s too cut up to do 
anything but continue to
rest in the sea it’s known
since the jawbone and some
blood brought it
into the world 
of the light
sometimes the sun shines
too brightly  
so it tries to turn 
its body to face the ocean floor

sometimes the flames 
give up their dancing
and turn to a rage 
that rumbles like the 
godly fetus of earthquakes
in the heart of te ikanui o maaui
they wish for safety
for all their children 
spread across this sea of islands
and if they can’t have that
if we can’t have that
then justice

Copyright © 2024 by essa may ranapiri. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.