after Naomi Shihab Nye

We on the sea cliff all
thrill at December’s licking
wind 

                        [[[call down a watery sky
                                    (a ritual) 
                        call on grasses stamped with Saturday shoes
                                    (a circle)
                        call up the kissing foam
                                    (a washing)
                        call to familia, mostly chosen,
                                                                        (a mending)]]]

and hover, for a time
in exquisite love.

My sister unfurls her golden kaftan, 
yokes our hearts’ zealous
champing

                        [[[calls upon the holy 
                                    (poetry)
                        calls upon our circle
                                    (familia)
                        calls upon our ancestors
                                    (saina)
                        calls upon the cosmos
                                                   (guma’)]]]
and sings

             It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness

The winter sky sings 

                        my brother’s proud trembling 
                        jaw, your father’s bursting
                        radiant heart.

And you, zaytun of my heart, i asagua-hu.
You wrapped in tales of tatreez, your mother’s thobe.

My dress is made of water 
and invisible feathers dipped 
in moonlight.

I sing
                        [[[Halla. New moon. Sinåhi. Hagu I pilån-hu.

                        Let us keep each other safe and soothed and seen. 
                        Let us be in each other’s eyes and minds and guts. 
                        Let us tend our twining love so that it spirals, ever upward, 
                        ever outward, ever toward our shared home. 

The osprey overhead clutches a plump
gulping fish, anoints us with i tåsi.

                        I promise to always to hold you with patience, humility, and
                                   compassion. 

                        I promise to honor you, your ancestors, and your homeland as I
                                   honor my own. 

                        I promise to never stop fighting, until we see freedom for our
                                   lands and people. 

                        Let us share our struggles, along with our joys. 
                        Let us share our pain, along with our bliss. 
                        Let us share everything, together, i guinaiya-ku, 
                        sa’ tåya’ åmot para man guaiguaiya fuera di mas guinaiya’. 

                                                                 (Because there is no medicine for being in
                                                                            love, except for more love.)
]]]

Copyright © 2024 by Lehua M. Taitano. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 14, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated from the Bengali by Lilian M. Whitehouse

       We are indeed children of Light. What an endless mart goes on in the Light. In the Light is our sleeping and waking, the play of our life and death. 
       Beneath one great canopy, in the ray of one great sun, slowly, very slowly, burn the unnumbered lamps of life. 
       In the midst of this unending Light I lose myself; amidst this intolerable radiance I wander like one blind. 
       We are indeed children of Light. Why then do we fear when we see the Light? Come, let us look all around and see, here no man hath cause for any fear. 
       In this boundless ocean of Light, if a tiny lamp goes out, let it go; who can say that it will not burn again? 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 26, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.

1.
If you run for too long, you forget everything.
Even your limbs become invention. A fallacy of skin
you tell yourself you once had when you knew
how to be more, so birds are the stories you now tell
your flesh. You remind her of the Swift 
who flies for years, as if land is an impossible trick. You tell
her about the Sea Eagle from China lost
in America for years. Flying and flying and never
finding home. You remember her the ʻAlauahio, the ʻŌʻō,
the Olomaʻo, the Kākāwahie, the ʻĀkepa, the Nukupuʻu
the ʻŌʻū, the Mamo, the ʻUla-ʻai-hawane, the Poʻo-uli, 
the Kāmaʻo, the ʻAmaui, the birds, the birds,
the birds. You remember her all the birds 
who had to be more
to be.

2.
This morning I am unsure how
a bird exists when she has been seen only
under glass for more than fifty years. Her feathers
a feeble reminder of what she could be. Diminished 
to a hush of keratin and collagen. This bird
once shook the forest with her color.

3.
This morning I am not sure how
I am still here. Daybreak—               
just another process of shedding
of peeling back to meat
with no     new      skin to shelter.

Every breath, a surprise.
The heart beats still.
But how—how do we quiet 
these too loud bones
when our seams are worn 
by so much running?

4.
When you finally stop
you still feel your insides running.
Those involuntary tissues scrambling
to burst through your surfaces. What
would you do to let them free? When all of you
is full of run, you imagine yourself feathers. 
There is a bird inside you pushing 
at all your cracks. The punctures of vanes 
are just more places for you to breathe. 
This bird inside you would know 
how to draw breath. This bird inside you 
would know the song struggling 
in your throat. What will you do 
to let this bird free? What will you do 
to find all the songs
you should sing?

5.
Today we remember the Kākāwahie.
we remember the ʻAlauahio, the ʻŌʻō,
the Olomaʻo, the ʻĀkepa, the Nukupuʻu
the ʻŌʻū, the Mamo, the ʻUla-ʻai-hawane,
the Poʻo-uli, the Kāmaʻo, the ʻAmaui.

Today we remember our body
before we severed our own wings
just so we could hide
from the man
in the story
who would pin
all our wings 
to the ground.

Copyright © 2024 by Lyz Soto. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 27, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.