Love Song to Waipi`o

by Kim Cope Tait

The visceral language of the Valley shivers us awake.
Here, even the way the sky opens up is a triangle.
The bodies of the white birds, the ordered pattern of their flight,
the tops of pine trees, the path the rain takes from earth to sea: all
open into three angles that sing the geometric precision
of this place. This water holds the nascent memory of form,

though it shifts and undulates beneath us. In our minds, form
undoes itself again, as we toss ourselves up and wake
to a new distance, an unmemory, the voiceless and precise
whisper of a goddess whose name is on our tongues—three angled
figure swinging from a mirror—how to speak it?—precious all
that remains of what felt at one time like love, like flight.

How we spill ourselves into this landscape. Hoping, we fly
to its rugged sanctuary and listen as it forms
the words we could never speak. The soft exhalation of all
who careen into this space: we. Uncertain of our place but awake
to its beauty and tumbling ourselves into the triangle
of the river mouth waiting, waiting. Oh, this is precisely

how we seek redemption—plunge our bodies into precision:
salt water edged with morning light. Baptism of imperfect flight,
and O, the inadequacy of the word. Guilty trinity
of the self: spirit and mind resist body, captain of forms,
body imperfect and full with desire. Mind refuses to wake
to the whole, embrace what is good if not divine. But all

of the old impossibilities disappear here and we
let the animal dream whisper itself to sleep, precise
outline of a need that no longer haunts, no longer wakes
us in the night or in our sleepwalk days. This is the flight
of transformation, what the Valley gives to us, the wild form
of our willingness to touch even these white, triangular

birds laboring across a slice of peerless sky. Triangles
emerge in our vision, and there is a kind of balance in all
of it: the way our memories of one another take the form
the river gives them. The way we can accept the precise
answer the black sand makes to our questioning: shhh. The flight
of our senses as they receive the wordless sigh and wake.

The goddess shimmers and turns on air, her triangular form
all golden in the sun: it creeps over the mountains as we wake
to the arc of love’s flight and the precision of trusting what is light.


Kim Cope Tait is a writer and teacher of English and yoga in the High Rockies of Colorado. Having lived in California, Hawaii, New Zealand, Switzerland and Vermont, her work is influenced greatly by place. Her poetry and prose have appeared in literary journals and magazines in the U.S. and abroad.

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