Hawaiian Legacy with a Quote from Derek Walcott

by tia north

School lessons never say
that the future
is undoing our past,
that the tongue, stubborn and steadfast,
is a barrier

because our hearts have forgotten
how to sing.
We go wandering to remap
our ancestral origins, but the gap,
persistent, stings.

Fear built the foundation
of our schools;
after years of living under
the missionaries, Protestant power,
colonial rule,

we learn to write English
in sentences,
speak with knotted
tongues, voices not
in a cadence

we know. I had a sound
colonial education,
so hea da voice dat neva speek
cuz i tuck itdaway adda stardda da week—it grows weak
in memorialization.


tia north is a kānaka maoli poet and educator from Pana`ewa, Hawai`i. A graduate from Kamehameha School, Seattle University, and The University of Oregon, she currently teaches in the English Department at The University of Oregon.

1 Comment

Filed under Poetry

One response to “Hawaiian Legacy with a Quote from Derek Walcott

  1. Gordon Hall

    So how do we begin giving the aina back?

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