I have always been a child of the ocean.
I think when I was born I crawled my way onto the shore, chubby little hands curling around pockets of wet sand, the Hawaiian goddess of the water, Na-maka-o-kaha’I pushing me gently forward, cool waves lapping at my toes. She told me:
“Keep going. This place is here for you.”
I’ve tried to write rhymes, to create couples that can console and sonnets that serenade, but I’ve always returned to the sea that is slam,
To the place where the words roll off you like the water over stony beaches, where the rocks are polished to perfection, to spheres of power that I hold in my hands to calm myself on my worst days.
I’m closest to this place when I write, when the words roll off my fingers and the ocean inside me is boiling and bubbling with vigor, with voracity, with Na-maka-o-kaha’I telling me to write,
To write because ocean children are powerful in a way that can make you simultaneously strong and seasick, because in my Hawaiian home there is so much to talk about, so much to say.
I am a poet because just like water, I am persistent, pushing forward my thoughts and ideas until I’m sure people can hear them, until my need to speak has been satisfied.
I am a poet because just like the ocean, I am angry, I am raw and unfiltered and if I don’t let go, I will drown, and my body will turn to sea foam, just like in the fairy tales and Hawaiian stories I’ve been read.
I am a poet because the words spill out of me like water from a broken glass, toppled by the rocky sea that is my life, growing older, and the world that we live in.
My head spins as I crawl onto shore, and I collapse, looking up at the sky. The sound of waves is persistent in my ears. Namaka whispers to me again, and I smile.