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To measure love in any way
is gonna be a challenge.
I think I am run dry,
way past the dregs
at the bottom of the barrel.
Hurot na.
Used up.
Nada mas.
Hele wale.

Love that use to pull taut
through my every fiber of being
with electric passion
and mother-bear strength of mind
and blade-sharp purpose
has now, at best,
morphed into comfort,
and endurance.
These things on a good day.

Yet lately
there is even less--merely
scratchy irritation
and a desire to leave it all behind,
to vanish into some cave,
maybe rent a condo for myself alone.
I don't want to love.
I just want to breathe,
and think,
or not think,
as long as I'm alone.

And it nags at me,
this shift in perception.
Is love dead to me?
Have I become stone woman?
Do I even care about people anymore?
And worse,
do I care that I don't care?

Then last night, another responsibility to fulfill.
A gathering down Hilo side,
in an old carport
beside a backyard stream
that tangles its way toward Wailoa ponds.
We sat at long tables, twenty or so of us,
acquaintances, friends who rarely meet,
sharing shoyu chicken,
roast turkey, beef stew,
chili rice, purple potato,
leafy greens, beany nachos,
potato chips, ice kulolo,
chocolate cake.

And after the food came the music.
A dozen ukulele, a few guitars.
Songs we knew, or sorta knew,
or wanted to know.
Mostly Hawaiian,
Or hapa haole,

Or little bit rock 'n' roll 70s.
Sing along. Hum along. Harmonize.
Or get up and hula.

A pause. Get a can of guava juice from the chest.
Mound another paper plate with rice and stew.

Our host tells stories of this old house.
Him a kid, rode his cow down the hill
to the old Safeway,
tied it out front, bought candy,
and rode that wide old cow
back up the hill.
A real cowboy he was.
We laugh, picturing it.

More music. More food. Night rain.
And folks start to drift away.
Here, take stew,
chicken, rice.
enough for family.
Get plenny, take more.

By the time I was packing up my guitar
saying aloha to these old friends
and thinking of my comfortable family
and warm home,
I'd rediscovered love.
Simple. It was there all along.

The event describes a gathering at Keoki Kahumoku's house on Ululani Street in Hilo in 2015.

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Article Details
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Author:Kageler, Dina Wood
Publication:Bamboo Ridge, Journal of Hawai'i Literature and Arts
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2018

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