Before the land was tamed by industry, 
the oceanside resorts and pineapple plantations, 
before the cane knife's rust, the dark time of sickness, 
the coming of cannons, the bitter waters drunk, 
before the metallic salt of blood, the rain emptied 
into rivers, the winds carved valleys and mountains, 
before the earth spurted fire, birthed islands, 
her churning magma and her inner core of iron, 
before the stars dwarved, their coronas ignited, 
before the centripetal spin of galaxies, 
the unwinding gestures of time and space, 
before the light and heat-

There was darkness without breath and Pō, 
pressing the entirety of a universe into a shell 
the size of an atomic nucleus, waiting.

Copyright © 2008 by Brandy Nālani McDougall. This poem appeared in The Salt-Wind: Ka Makani Pa'Akai (Kuleana Oiwi Press, 2008)Used with permission of the author.