Don’t move your shoulders,
she says. Just your hips. She
does not say why. Her back
is straight and still, knees bent,
and she teaches me the hela,
the ka’apuni, the kaholo.
Our feet move, our hips
move. We are slow and quiet.
Then she teaches my hands to speak.
The rain is falling, she says.
We flutter our fingers
and turn. It brings life
to the land and makes flowers
bloom. But this is only
what it means on the surface,
she says. The blossom, she says,
as she turns her hands up, is our love
for our children, or for a lover,
or even, she says for our parents.
No one ever knows exactly
what the hula really says.
Our hands rise to the left, the ocean waters
evaporate, turn to clouds. Our right hands
unfurl from our lips, become
song. We touch our left hand to our chest
and it rises, sweet divine one.
One step follows the next. I quiet the rest.
The breeze is impossibly sweet.
I am saying this as well as I can.
There is more, of course,
the blossoms falling, the return
of the rain, the woman
trading places with the waves.
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