The moon pulls at the hem of her blue dress and her hands slip away from mine.
She leaves what she can no longer carry on the sand :
The starving sea turtle who ate too many plastic jellyfish.
The poisoned octopus offers me just one of his three landfilled hearts
with his dying wish:
“If you won’t take it who will?”
World Oceans Day became internationally recognized by the UN in 2008 and has been growing in popularity and participation every year since. The day was created to recognize the implementation of worldwide Sustainable Development Goals and to encourage public interest in caring for our oceans.
Living near an ocean is new to me, having lived most of my life in landlocked states like Idaho and Colorado. Before, my awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our environment had always been in the back of my mind, but not something I took daily responsibility for. Now, having the privilege to visit the ocean regularly, this awareness has quickly moved to the front of my mind, as I’m reminded of the immediate and lasting impacts our waste has.
As we all know, this impact is especially true for our single-use plastics (water bottles, plastic straws, styrofoam take-out boxes, etc.) that are only useful to us for an average of 12 minutes, while it takes an estimated 400 years for these plastics to decompose. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a garbage truck worth of these plastics are dumped into the ocean every minute, that is 5-13 million metric tons a year! They estimate that by 2050 the weight of plastics in the ocean will exceed the weight of fish in the ocean!
The particles from these plastics are unfortunately consumed by marine life, as they mistake the foreign objects for food. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags as jellyfish and end up starving, never knowing they didn’t actually eat a jellyfish. Not to mention the toxins from these plastics are linked to a plethora of health problems for marine life and for us humans, who consume the fish.
This is a very daunting and troubling issue that is not going to be solved by just a few. To make a change we all need to do what we can, starting with just one simple thing in our lives. That could be bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, using a reusable water bottle, or refusing plastic straws at restaurants. The World Oceans Day website, as well as many others like Plastic Oceans have plenty of great resources and ideas on how we can do our part!
The Hawaiian language has over 200 different names for rain. The breadth of these names describe the form and qualities of each type, as well as the specific times and regions of the islands these rains can be found. The Hawaiian culture recognizes rain not only as an integral part of survival, but also as a friend and spiritual guide. To talk about the rain is much more than small-talk in Hawaii, it is a conversation and language in itself. The physical intricacies of rain color parts of your day and life differently and help to understand the depths of others. Hawaiian ancestors trusted the different rains to determine when to plant specific crops, fish, harvest, and so much more. Most of us have lost so much of our connection to the land. I can only hope to notice and welcome more of these sacred, rainy visitors.
1. My love is the rain Soaking through the sheet of night Time folds into sky
2.Gardens refresh us Flowers are forms of water Our souls drink the rain
The rain dripped down the faces of leaves then tapped unbreaking a dance in the streets.
We laughed in gleams shone brighter in night to finally feel climate that sung us alive.
In Hawaiian poetry mentions of rain or rains may signify joy, life, growth, greenery, love, good fortune (light rains, mist), grief, sorrow, and tears (heavy rains), the presence of gods or royalty, sex, beauty or hardship.
Some of my favorite Hawaiian rain types:
kili, much beloved rain
ko’iawe, light moving rain
ua nāulu, showery rain
ua lani pili, rain downpour
ua ho’okina, continuous rain
ua hikiki’i, slanting rain
ililani, unexpected rain
uakoko, rainbow-hued rain
Lēhei, leaping rain of upcountry Maui
kuāua hope, spring rain
ka ua ‘awa, grieving rain
ʻeleua, dark rain
kuāua, hopeful rain
ehu, fine spray rain
Lani-paʻina, crackling heavens rain
ʻUla-lena, invigorating, yellow & red rain of Maui
Mololani, well-kept rain of the Lehua flower & Ohia tree
W.S. Merwin, was a beloved poet and conservationist who lived in near-solitude in Haiku on Maui from 1970 until his death in 2019. His work was highly influenced by his passion for restoration of depleted flora and his connection to the elements on the island. I am looking forward to visiting his plantation soon where he restored hundreds of species of palms.
Merwin wrote several beautiful rain poems. Here is one of my favorites of his:
I wake in the dark and remember it is the morning when I must start by myself on the journey I lie listening to the black hour before dawn and you are still asleep beside me while around us the trees full of night lean hushed in their dream that bears us up asleep and awake then I hear drops falling one by one into the sightless leaves and I do not know when they began but all at once there is no sound but rain and the stream below us roaring away into the rushing darkness
Maui held a beauty pageant for the plants on the island’s stage …
First up was the talent portion …
The Palm Tree did the hula, the Hibiscus danced ballet, but it was the Trumpet Vine who wooed the crowed with her jazzy serenade.
Next up was the evening wear…
The gowns were rich in pines and petals from the Norfolk and the Orchid, but to the Bougainvillea and her ruffled florals — the blue ribbon was awarded.
Then there came the on-stage question …
The Fox Tail and the Lobster Claw didn’t have much to say, but the Bird of Paradise won, wings-down, with her passion for civil rights day.
Awards would start with specialties …
Of course, Photogenic, went to Belladonna, she thought she’d win Congeniality, but that went to the kind Plumeria (Belladonna had no personality).
And then there was the final moment; the title holders announced …
The first runner up was the Ginger Plant with her spicy need for the spotlight but the crown went to the Pineapple, for her sweetest beauty laid inside.
Writing and Photography By: Katy Claire Funke
This month officially marks 10 years since I entered the world of pageants. I won the title of Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Teen through the Miss America Organization in 2010. It was one of the most life-changing moments for me and I still reap the benefits from the skills I gained through my pageant experience. Even though pageants get a bad rap (and don’t get me wrong, they definitely do have some not so pretty aspects), I can say, without a doubt, that the people I personally worked with: my state directors, fellow contestants, and title holders, are still some of the most remarkable women I have ever encountered. I earned a great deal of scholarships through the Miss America Organization to go toward my college education and so many unforgettable experiences that I will always be grateful for.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I fell in love with Poetry.
Somewhere between the summer nights and the carelessness of his hair.
Of course, he was a musician with this hypnotizing rhythm and a smile like Chardonnay.
Just the way that he knocked at my door that autumn day … I must have known for certain that I’d never be the same.
How he waltzed right up to me and took me by the hand. How he whispered, we should dance … and I felt so silly, only knowing a few steps like the haiku shuffle, and the iambic slide — but oh, the way he held me, right then I could have died!
All of it is beautiful, he said, because it’s you. I swooned into his smooth talk, but deep down always knew that my rhymes about my dog were only child’s play, while a masterpiece he was, (but good heavens, still I blushed!)
On our very first date we hiked up into the forest— and no, he wasn’t wealthy, but was richer than the royals when he showed me all the jewels hidden, muted in my world, and he listened ever gently to all my heart had to say.
To hear it as he did was like dining at the Ritz. As never had I seen the sky in such divine array in a morning glory apricot.
And music — how it just lit up like candlelight!
And all the late-night drives… where was he taking me? A coral beach at sunrise? Floating on the sea? Somewhere down the way to a love, complex and deep? I swear the way he knew me was like I’d known him all my life .
But my dear, he was a heartbreaker… He showed me what it was to cry through all the pain — oh, the pain! His pain, my pain — it was all the same. An unanticipated turn into a ping-pong game; ending in a knock-down-drag-out fight within myself pinned into a corner. I had to write to get me out.
Impassioned in our nights and exposed in all my scars that he kissed and turned to stars while we held each other tight. We forgave and fell asleep, only knowing I’d awake as a new unburdened day finding beauty ever steady than it was in yesterday.
On my journey never knowing where all of this would land, but always being thankful for the journey he began.
May first is the celebrated Lei Day throughout the Hawaiian islands, dedicated to the beautiful tradition of making and wearing lei.
The holiday was started May 1st, 1928, after the famous poet, Don Blanding, (AKA the “poet laureate of Hawaii”) suggested a special day be made to honor the spirit of aloha, which is best embodied in the lei tradition.
Lei Day is usually full of celebratory events throughout the community which include live music, food, hula dancing, and lei contests. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, none of these gatherings were able to take place this year. However, kama’aina (Hawaii residents) were encouraged to make their lei at home and share their creations by hanging them on their mailboxes or taking photos.
Hawaii is well known for its “Spirit of Aloha,” which is a way of life on the islands. Being a new resident and having only visited here before now, I have been very curious about what exactly aloha means to the people who live here. We all associate the word with hello, goodbye or love, but what it means to natives goes much deeper.
The direct translation of aloha from Hawaiian to English is presence of divine breath. Hawaiians used to greet each other by placing their foreheads together and inhaling at the same time as a practice to exchange good health and spiritual power. Today, this practice is very rare and the spirit of aloha is shown in other ways. Aloha is the essence of being: love, peace, compassion and respect, living in harmony with the people and the land. It is all about caring for one another without expecting anything in return.
The lei is a symbol of affection representing aloha, given to those coming and leaving Hawaii. Leis are usually strung fresh flowers, shells, nuts, leaves and berries, but can be made of a variety of materials.
Here is my poem for my first Lei Day:
Spirit of Aloha
To wear such words (such masterpiece)
though one may not assume to be in tenderest of messages— intricately woven of berries and blooms :
A harmony of understanding
A breath sent from me to you
A greeting of deeper meaning
between mayflowers who always knew . . .
To be revealed within the gauze of rainbow in prismatic kindness
the Aloha Spirit shines its colors through the veils of silvered mist
And my lovely he’e berry lei along with a bonus May Day rainbow outside the kitchen window!
Since day one I have felt this aloha spirit and been blessed to be welcomed into the community. Despite all the chaos with COVID-19 neighbors are always checking in on me, having me over for dinner and helping me get acquainted with the island. It has been a crazy time of adjustments, especially during these unprecedented times, but having aloha has helped immensely.