Our Red Road

This morning I didn’t even honi you when I came in.
I just walked right by your shallow breath,
your eyes shut in the living room, and that bed
stuffed with pulu. And all the blurred words
projecting onto the backs of your eyelids.

Ke alanui maʻawe ‘ula a Kanaloa …

I organize your prescription bottles like kiʻi
along the edges of the kitchen heiau
and try to remember how long it’s been
since you strung a sentence together
and draped it over my shoulders.

I grew up mountain view and I can always see
mauna kea and mauna loa same time

In the afternoon I thicken your drinking water,
obsessing on what you’ll want for the road, and pack
some paʻi ʻai a me ka iʻa. Bundled guesswork
disguised as intention once the oceans open up.
I keep a version of you in my pocket that asks,

Maybe this red road is not mine, but ours, Boy?
So make some food for you, too.

In the evening I sit you up and our eyes trace the octopus’s
footprints moonlit in the yard grass. You smile
and gulp the thick water, and I keep obsessing
about which muʻumuʻu you’ll want to wear in the waʻa.

Copyright © 2022 by Donovan Kūhiō Colleps. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 18, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.