Robert Sullivan


Ahi Kā — The House of Ngā Puhi

We light the poem and breathe out
             the growing flames. Ahi kā. This
                                is our home — our fire. Hot tongues out

— pūkana — turn words to steam. This
                fish heart is a great lake on a
                                  skillet. Ahi kā! Ahi kā!

Keep the fire. The sun’s rays are ropes
              held down by Māui’s brothers.
                                They handed down ray by burning

ray to each other every
                day — we keep the home fires burning
                                    every day. Mountains of our

house are its pillars — I believe
                in the forces that raised them here.
                                   Ahi kā burnt onto summits

char in the land, ahi kā dream,
               long bright cloud brilliant homeland.
                                 Ahi kā our life, ahi kā

carried by the tribe’s forever-story
               firing every lullaby.
                                 Shadows shrink in our hands’ quiver

as we speak — ahi kā sing fire
                 scoop embers in the childhood sun
                                   stare into molten shapes and see

people — building, sailing, farming —
                see them in the flames of our land
                                   see them in this forever light

no tears only fire for ahi
                kā no weeping only hāngi pits
                                     no regrets just forgiveness and

a place for the fire — it’s our song
                to sing — ahi kā— got to keep
                                    singing the shadows away — ha!




Author’s Note


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