The lava pulsed through
the cores of our being,

like thick cherry wine —
strumming in chords,
coursing through veins.

In ash
we were born —
a fate intertwined

under soft gleams of pines
in the misting of eyes.

In wasteland were we
though together we grew
as a Lehua flower
& Ohia tree.

A vulnerable love,
fragile and bleeding,
but deep in its truth
& true in its meaning.

Though plucked from you now
the rain will pour...
but I’ll carry your heart
& we’ll be forever more.

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

The Ohia tree is a sacred tree to the Hawaiian culture. It is one of the only plants that grows in the harshest of environments: in the ashes of lava. In Hawaiian mythology, Ohia was a warrior whom the goddess of fire, Pele, turned into a twisting tree. His love, Lehua, became the bright red flower on his branches. Legend has it that when a Lehua flower is plucked from an Ohia tree the mountains will mist and rain will pour.

Lehua flower 4/8/2020

The Ohia tree’s life on the Hawaiian islands is extremely fragile, as it is susceptible to infection from the introduction of new fungi in the soil. There is currently a huge effort to protect the Ohia tree and its future.

Ohia tree in West Maui Mountains 4/8/2020

The only place I wanted to be at today was in the mountains. My most treasured memories have been in mountains, having grown up in the Owyhees of Idaho and having recently moving from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I needed to feel some home in the West Maui Mountains today.

I hiked the Waihee Ridge Trail that overlooks the north side of the island and the lush, majestic mountains that have the most incredible plant life I’ve ever seen. It misted and rained plenty among the Ohia Trees while I was writing this poem up there.

6 thoughts on “The Ohia Tree

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