[ode to the water beneath Kapūkakī also known as Red Hill]

“How ashamed water is to be what you have made it.”
—Conchitina Cruz

this week i was becoming          it was the eve of a storm i was forming
into fluid preparing to              change state or nation into occupied
land over a crime scene        a body of water not over a woman but
oceanic in that way.              now i’m new here & no genius but even
i know water is life;              what is the harvest of a tank farm? what
grows? nobody                   deserves this, not even the random ate in
waipahu who                   told me why can’t you just get over martial
law as if we                    could have even gotten to find his body or an
ordinary                    grief. even servants of empire can be my kapwa.
what is a             colony against that? what if i got a bottle of pinatubo
water                    shipped here the same wai that along with lava rushed
down our                  mountain in grey torrents to turn one US base into
a ruin                              the other evacuated, tails between its legs? what
if i offered                                     that water to this land in places, bit by
bit, to say:                                              you’re not alone. keep fighting

Copyright © 2024 by Jake Eduardo Vermaas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 8, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.