by Sierra Jacob
you want to build a lei across the mountain / catalogue / want the deep wet / massive habitat loss: simply too daunting to tackle / fold the leeward grassland back to shade / if the prospect of extinction doesn’t concern people / upon rediscovery / original Hawaiian name had been lost / Kiwikiu / sound rendering / layers of din / clamor / the deep songs of things have left these forests / you found bird-catching owls / flightless ibises and honey creepers only after bones / bones like constellations on the floors of lava tubes / I followed the river through one once / absence of day-glow / absence of everything but body stepping through water/ revealed back into the world / from packed rock / delivered back / one in every three endangered bird species is Hawaiian / I’ve known these forests as always quiet / lost in tourism taglines / you listening for the ghosts of missing birds / at the peak of this all / I can’t hear the wide load convoy / protest / deliver telescope equipment to summit / sliver sliced ʻĀhinahina skirting / closed to public / the sky exposing what is vivid / at liminal time / marching Waikīkī the hub of tourism / industry / we call attention to the fact / construction in sacred space / chant up the sun / striving to impart / we are proud to be here / destination / walking the valley between skyscrapers / clamor / you said the last Po`ouli dying was a wake-up call / I am watching the forest dry after early rain / forest wanting to regenerate / scared leaves of Koa reining moisture from fog / from down here I can still see / light radiates off the half built telescope crowing Haleakalā / trucks will be moving very slowly up / you call to rebuild a forest that hasn’t existed in living memory / I know this all to be living memory / recharge groundwater / extinction epicenter / we have a lengthened living memory / humidity building / I have watched ferns descend this valley / disturbance of a small body / marked in movement / holding vigil at the summit for 137 days now / you said / the hopeless situation that native birds face / in modern Hawai`i
Sierra Jacob is an MFA candidate at the University of Montana, where she received the Richard Hugo Memorial Scholarship for poetry. She is currently a poetry editor for CutBank Literary Magazine. Her poetry has appeared and is forthcoming in Cream City Review, Yemassee, Sonora Review, The Louisville Review, Compose, Pacifica Literary Review, LUMINA, and others. She was born and raised in Ha`iku, Hawai`i.