Sunday, December 14, 2014

Craig Santos Perez, from "understory" (Split this Rock poem of the week)

Poem of the Week:
Craig Santos Perez

from understory

(to my wife, nālani
and our 7-month old daughter, kai)

kai cries
from teething--

how do
new parents

comfort a
child in

pain, bullied
in school,

shot by
a drunk

APEC agent?

nālani gently

massages kai's
gums with

her fingers-
how do

we wipe
away tear--

gas and
blood? provide

shelter from
snipers? disarm

occupying armies?

nālani sings
to kai

a song
about the

Hawaiian alphabet--
what dreams

will echo
inside detention

centers and
cross teething

borders to
soothe the

thousands of
children atop

la bestia?

nālani rubs
kai's back

warm with
coconut oil--

how do
we hold

violence at
arm's length

when raising
[our] hands

up is
no longer

a universal
sign of

surrender? #black

kai finally
falls asleep

in nālani's
cradling arms,

skin to
skin against

the news--
when do

we tell
our daughter

there's no
safe place

for us
to breathe #...


From  Hawai'i Review special online issue, Write for Ferguson. With special thanks to editors Anjoli Roy and No'u Revilla. 

Used with permission.

Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Creative Writing Program in the English Department at the University of Hawai'i, Mānoa. 
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