for Dr. Maya Angelou (1993) by: Kathryn Waddell Takara, Ph.D.
Like the cherished ohia tree
springs from a crack in the hard lava,
from a stringbean shrub
to a mighty and magnificent tree.
Echo, her voice.
Birthed in the harsh fires of destruction
a paradox of loveliness, a multitude of forms
surrounded in silence and wind torrents
expanding in creativity,
able to withstand nature’s extremes
through endurance, resilience, and strength.
Echo, “Life doesn’t frighten me at all.”
The ohia is polymorphouse, multifaceted,
inspirational to many.
Roots plunge deep,
entwining, stretching like a riverflow,
symbiotically connecting levels, places, environments, ancestors, people–
Echo, “You can never leave home.”
The ohia, sanctified
for healing , building, beauty,
famed in legend and chant
refuses to be transplanted easily.
Song of survival moaning
in the winds currents of long ago now.
Echo, “I shall not be moved.”
Like the grace of the red lehua flower
conspicuous in solitary beauty,
surrounded by a court of jade leaves
and cultural values.
At home in the rarified atmosphere of volcanic conditions,
at home equally in the lowlands by the sea,
Conceived by sparseness
a sacred creation amidst hardened fields of lava
nurtured by rain rivers, fire rocks, buckets of chilling mist,
cherished like a queen in a native Hawaiian forest.
From a distance,
your lacey fringes swaying in the windy rains
belie the intricate detail
of your softness.
Echo, “And we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
and come the birds
seeking your nectar.
The noble i`iwi, like royalty,
chooses your crown to rest, to build a nest,
chooses your sweet ambrosia of procreation
for cross pollination.
He perches attentively in red feathered regalia
with kingly black beak, wings, and piercing eyes,
open to a passionate need.
Echo, “Touch me Life, not softly.”
The lehua calls, the i`iwi responds,
fearless, claiming the sky and the virgin earth,
a vibrant silhouette on a changing horizon,
a fragrance carried out to sea on the breeze,
a presence of faith,
a celebration of hope, freedom, humanity.
Echo, “And still I rise.”
in the dawn of her day,
opportunity was slow in coming.
But like the ohia lehua, she rises above the clouds
out of the barren lava,
and gives us blossoms of intimate words,
and hope which heals like night’s first star
or a moon nearly full
in a summer Hawaiian sky.
Poem previously published in my book: Tourmalines: Beyond the Ebony Portal