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The Silversword

This is a true story.

There is a plant
who can survive
in only ash and ice,
and the harshest light.

They are warriors planted in the sky
from the rebel grounds
of ocean floors.

These plants are known
as Silverswords.

These plants grow only here.

They wear their suits reflecting sun
and fight the gales in uniform.

However,
these knights
have a secret they hold
much deeper than meets the eye …

Much like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz,
their quest in life :
to find their true hearts.

The heart they’ll hold but keep from light
until they are ready to
blossom
and die.

Each plant then waits
in contemplation …
years
(some up to fifty!)
Waiting
in their questioning
for a moment of truth
unfurling.

When they
decide
to give this heart—

breaking bread with dawn’s communion,

they show
rare beauty,
overflowing

and color the skies with freedom blooming.



Poetry is very much alive in this incredible world!

The majestic Silversword plant grows only at the summit of Mt. Haleakalā on Maui and Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii. They arrived an estimated one million years ago on winds from ancestor tarweeds in North America. They are a highly endangered species and are very protected in their volcanic environments by conservation efforts.

Their leaves are covered with tiny silver hairs that reflect the intense sunlight and protect them from radiation at 10,000 feet above sea level. Their striking appearance is compared to a bouquet of shining swords. They can collect water from the snow storms that happen at the summit and store enough water in their leaves to survive the summer.

What makes these plants most awe-inspiring is that they live between 15-50 years, only bloom once in their lifetime, and then immediately die afterwords. It’s like they give thanks to the world and then prostrate themselves.

What a wonder of nature! I am so curious about how each plant knows when it’s their time to bloom… I wonder why some wait decades longer than others before unveiling what they have created inside. Very mysterious…

Their flowering is a spiraling rosette of 30 to 600 disk florets. The flowers are deep plum-colored and look very similar to their relative, the sunflower. These peculiar blooms can tower at over 8 feet tall!

The rare drosophila fly pollinator!

The plant starts drying up after it’s final bloom dies and then it turns into a skeleton. The good news is that a new baby Silversword can then rise up out of the husk of the dead plants. ☺️

I felt very honored to witness the rare flowering of some miraculous Silverswords on Mt. Haleakalā this past weekend.

All of my facts come from my very knowledgeable neighbor, Scott — a Naturalist who has worked protecting Silverswords on Haleakalā for over 20 years!

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Sea of Dreams

When I wrap myself in the world you write
I can fall asleep for days.

Every word
washes me —
over, under,
rocking me
from sand to pearl-star.

And I know

it’s only
you,

the infinite ocean
I taste and crave.

It’s only you
who knows my dark
and glows my dreams this way.

Before I knew your poetry
or the sunset on your skin
it was the truth that shone
in your eyes of night
that I gave a kiss of no return.

And now I know
I left my soul
on the lips of endless sea
the lips that sing my sweetest dreams,

a song of

only

you.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Ocean Romance Poems

Mermaid

Lost at sea,
sound or insane,
her compass only points to you.

You drown your navigation maps.

The North Star collapses
to a singularity of night
that pulls your boat inside her soul.

Light-years beyond
fathoms below.

( My heart gets tied to yours. )

Black sand beaches

Black sand beaches
line your mind
between the ocean and fantasy.

I find you
shipwrecked —
your eyes are tracing
the delicate edges of every wave;

brimmed with thirsting adorations
( your praise to waters
heavenly ) …

Tonight,
we do not fall from grace,

we dive

into the sea.


Harmony

On the breeze, your song
takes the breath of day :

The sun falls for the ocean.
A metronome slows to your strum

on a beach. Twilight blushes
in the shy of your smile —
pearl, half-moons
rising in my eyes;

a blossom of harmony
for the music that we write.

My voice warms
under your hands
like a wave
(a guitar’s body-shape)
that melts
to a sizzle of foam on the sand.

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Into Thin Air

And that day
we hiked away from the forest —

the cling of moss and whispers of pines
shedding off of our skin
as we drifted up through alien shrublands.

We carried only our dreams
and each other’s sunburnt hands

as life diminished behind us :
green became silver

and the earth
was sacred —
stripped down to its essence
of basalt and iron silence.

We stepped into the procession of clouds,
leading to a lunar sanctuary in the sky

where there was only
the breath shared between us
and eternity.


Writing in the clouds 10,000 feet above sea-level today in the crater of the sacred House of the Sun: Mt. Haleakalā … ☁️☀️🌙🗻

The shining Silversword Plant found at the summit of Mt. Haleakalā and nowhere else on the planet!!
Mossy pines in Hosmer Grove, mid-way up to the summit.

I might still be lightheaded from this otherworldly journey… ✨ definitely more to come from it!

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Liquid

I try to find the words —
try to sculpt a form that shapes you,

but then I realize
our love is liquid …

and that everything I feel through me
also flows through you —

through my veins from a river :
hidden
rivulets of rhythm

or droplets in a lake
that ripple
into a complete
softness.

Like an ocean
blurs
pale to deep its blue

or brings the music
soothing
this neither me nor you …

It’s like
in the very act of me searching for you

I find myself
already held

in the arms of the rain.


(The type of rain that can say everything.)

Update: After writing this poem this morning a precious rain fell at my house the rest of the day. 🌧✨💙

Rain video – Wailuku, HI 7/3/2020
Baby lemon tree planted today! 🍋💧

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Nightmare

The ghosts in all her nightmares
are certain she’s gone mad …

Not because
she missed all the dance steps
or forgot to study for the test.

But because,
lately,
she hasn’t frozen
from their chill-inflicting boos

or shattered
when her classmates
saw that she was nude …

Now,
when she is on-stage
and discovers she’s unclad,

she gallops skyward
like Godiva

and sings with stars instead.



This beautiful mare I met today inspired me.

Ariel the horse – 7/1/2020

(As a performer my dreams have always gone a little something like this.)

Moonlight

The moon softly swells with the hush of night.

Her lily-white glow
on the ocean
in your eyes.

But her soul’s connection
blooms deeper
than the surface

or her sighs at a distance
between ebb & flow.

( This pulling
force of nature :
a secret
you know. )

For her love for your sea,
till the ends of the earth,

shines brightest
in the dark.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Stargazing in Wailuku, HI 6/29/2020

Ocean Meditation

I followed my heart today
and, of course,
I was lead back to the sea.

Only this time
it was different

( or maybe it was me … )

The energy was somehow
more wild,

though there was no wind
( hardly a breeze ).

The waves were mighty —
unbreakably alive,
unpredictably
free .

In awe

I was
mesmerized
by every movement.

The give and take of
every
breath

filled me,

stilled me

in a most profound respect,

as I watched its fireworks display:
a new surprise with every wave

sometimes blue
sometimes green

some exploding —
foam flickering
then fading.

Sea spray falling
like fire
to my lips.

Every
moment.

Every
energy

here

now.

In you,
In me,
In love,

In and from
The Ocean.

( Maybe,
next time,
I’ll be the wave
that meets you there. )


Makena Beach is a spacious state park on the leeward side of Maui. I love coming here for its seclusion and the way it sets a majestic and meditative stage to watch the ocean. I felt an intense calling to this beach today and arrived to find its waves more roiling than I have ever seen them before. The water is known for being pretty calm there, however, it was the breeze that I usually find there that was completely calm. It gave me more of a still reverence to its glorious display — an uniquely divine experience to be present in. 💙

I couldn’t help but think of a fireworks display with the 4th of July next week! 🎇

Wave video – Makenna Beach 6/28/2020

Today, the spotlight of nature’s stage most
centered
on the sea.

From somewhere in the whirling night :

a push and pull
between here and there —

a tugging on my tiny web
toward the weaving of my larger truth.

On the sighs of the wind
a bewitching melody
sings of my uncharted path:

to wander in the boundless spaces
held between the stars.

Still
I cling to self-worn threads
and fear a dark unknown.

Still
a voice cries through the night:
an aching to be born.

But how are new beginnings spun
if not through these heart-flaring storms?


I yearn to be swept

into nothing

but the sound of music in the rain.

Song of the Sea

Now I understand
what you tried to say to me

when the sun shone high
on those sand dunes by the beach

and your voice was singing clearly
of green and azure waves,

but all I saw
were shadows
on a desert that day.

Though the lyrics of your music
sounded true and so familiar,
my ignorance was dissonant
as I tried to sing along.

Still, patiently,
you listened,
as I practiced
and practiced

till I finally
was immersed
in the song of your sea.

And while swaying in the depths
to the lull of the current —

that music,
I discovered,
always played
within me.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke