For Mauna a Wākea

May 2020

It’s been 300 days since I first laid in your arms
First felt the chill of your kiss on my skin 
You brought me to the thin line between life and death
Between frostbite and heat exhaustion 
You taught me balance

And when you stretched your arms around us
You taught us safety
What it meant to create security with our own bodies
So for you 
I am every child who imagined someday you’d be free
I am every prayer laid at your feet

These days 
I am hundreds of miles away 
But you still visit me in my dreams
We share ceremony with Niolopua
And in that realm 
You keep all my secrets
All my fears 
All I am too afraid or ashamed to say out loud

For my fellow kiaʻi
It’s been 300 days since we marked the boundaries
Lined our jurisdictions with the trembling tenor of our collective voice
Since we began to feed each other
In food
In spirit
In care

For you
I am everything that cannot be broken
I am your first pinky promise
I am the incoming swell
I am every bit of love you taught me to lay at her feet
I am songs between stories, between tears
I am the water we fought to protect
That we shared 
In the bitter cold of night
When we worried
No one else was coming


Copyright © 2022 by Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 6, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is a part of a series entitled ‘Love Poems in the Malu of Mauna a Wākea.’ They were all written while living, fighting, and struggling beside my lāhui under the unwavering aloha and protection of our Mauna in the summer and fall of 2019. After a nearly three-year hiatus from writing, these poems (and others) emerged as urgently and swiftly as our lāhui Kākana grew in the early days of the Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu. Like many others, I lived in a constant state of aloha and inspiration in those days as we marked the palena of our puʻuhonua, chained ourselves to cattle guards, watched our kūpuna get hauled away by law enforcement, and stood side by side making islands of protection out of our bodies. It is from this grand demonstration of aloha ʻāina that these poems were born.”
Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio