(on viewing Choris' portrait of Kamehameha I )

It was morning when I first saw you
on a slim side wall where
someone might absentmindedly flip
a light switch. Not the center of the gallery
with guards flanking you, cordoned off
by velvet ropes. Instead

you are housed in a small common frame
constricted by a fading red vest.
Your gray hair creates a halo effect;
a pious merchant, an aging choir boy. Impostor.

Where are you my king?

You are there
a shadow on the horizon
amidst a fleet of ten a hundred a thousand
engulfing as the waves that surround this island
seated on the ama, eyes perched on the shores of Waikiki.
You are there in the tall grass of Nu'uanu,
sun gleaming off your thighs your chest
mo'o skin helmets your face allowing
only the black pupil widening to be seen,
your calloused hand holding back the spear
anxious for the release. You are there
in the first clashes of muscle and teeth
salt sweat drawing light onto your skin
as the elepaio shrieks in the branches above.
Your spear tip pushes father and brother to the edge
Imua! Imua! and 400 more leap like mullets
into stony nets waiting below.

A pact of silence has been made by the bones left behind,
I go to those pastures to break it. I go to listen
to find you my king. Too many have been mislead by this canvas.

-Christy Passion

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