for Rita

he is going back to his atoll
where the women still go topless
and the men wear pwundosi
to spread the word of God

“no more sexting,” I say

“Ai adai, they don’t even have phones over there do they!?” my friend asks

“They do! and internet too!”


“Yea, they just don’t wear panty or deodorant,” I say.

We laugh our annoying island laughs. 

Lucky them.


Copyright © 2022 by Emelihter Kihleng. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is based on a conversation I had with a dear friend years ago. It speaks to the many stereotypes people on the Pacific Island of Guåhan, or Guam, a U.S. Territory, have of the ‘outer islands’ of Micronesia. I am from what some people on Guam would call an ‘outer island,’ Pohnpei, three hours away by plane. However, there are outer islands in Yap, where the islanders are perhaps less influenced by America and/or globalization and wear their own clothing, and to me, this is something beautiful. Underneath the humor, there lies envy.”
Emelihter Kihleng