Poem-a-Day - "Contact Zone" by Imaikalani Kalahele

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May 11, 2022 

Contact Zone

Imaikalani Kalahele

Contact 
That’s when two stuff 
Touch, yeah? 

Just like when the tides come in 
And touch the shores
Bringing what it will. 

Fish from the deep 
Limu from the shores 
ʻOpihi from the rocks 
Coconuts on the drift 
Logs from the continent 
People from around the world 
Plastics and ʻopala of all sorts. 

The shore has no choice 
It has to accept 
Whatever the tides bring. 

Here we are 
In this swirling muliwai 
Of ideas and manaʻo 
Philosophies and spiritualities. 

Like the tides 
Ebbing and flowing 
The shore has no choice. 

But we do! 

Copyright © 2022 by Imaikalani Kalahele. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 11, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“As an island nation in the middle of the ocean, we do not control what comes ashore. As Hawaiians, as a people, we can control what we accept.”
Imaikalani Kalahele

Imaikalani Kalahele is a Hawaiian poet and the author of Kalahele (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2002). 
Kalahele
(University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2002)

“Ocean Water” by Dasha Kelly Hamilton
read more
“What is Water?” by Danielle Legros Georges
read more

Thanks to Brandy Nālani McDougall, author of The Salt-Wind: Ka Makani Pa‘Akai (Kuleana ‘Oiwi Press, 2008), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about McDougall’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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