To Anyone Who Can’t Get Home

(Including Natives, Immigrants, and Extraterrestrials)

The false harbor of home: 
washed ashore and alien 

This belongs to you. 
It does not belong to me. 

Before the steamship 
that delivered great-X.

Before: the brigantine 
that brought coffee and the first Bible.

Before: the double-hulled canoe
that arrived to find it was not the first.

Slice the water:
the instinct to take up space.

Trace the trajectory:
the instinct to connect points.

From Hawaiki,
the place from which we came
and the place we will call home
when we die—back to Babylon,
where there was a tower built
by people speaking a common language.

From the urge to remember
and be remembered
the confundation of language and meaning:
agents of the first
and eternal voyage away.

In darkness,
we pluck the gourd
from which we fling
pulp and seeds into light.

From the bloody mouth
and the destroyer,
we pluck
calamondin        thimbleberry        mountain apple
and delight
when we mistake the red fur of the tree fern
for a wild boar.

Every birth
is an act of colonization
born to mouse
born to grain.

In defense, we leave places
in exactness:
a typewriter on a desk,
chicken bones in a sink,
an empty bottle of perfume
on a nightstand.

But return
and return again
to these places
only to find ghosts
clicking keys,
touching bones,
and inhaling the last traces
of home.

Published in Bamboo Ridge #113