creative ramblings & reverie

Friday, April 1, 2011

Words without Vs

The wind comes again, down the sunlit morning pastures.  The field moves around the horse where he is tethered, all around him, travelling west.

Only the fragile old Japanese paper lanterns in the front window are still, serene.  I admire their serenity.

I read about words and names in my friend Charlotte's book on Huna.  "In the word is life, in the word, death."

Words carry spiritual as well as mundane meanings.  Names, inoa, tell of the owner's nature and destiny.  A name is itself a living thing, carrying mana, determining events, healing or harming.  Words are capable of altering reality.  The proper use and order of words is essential in prayer, so prayer will—as I have willed it—take flight.

I study words in the Hawaiian dictionary, interspersed with red New England leaves.  I learn that there are at least twenty-seven kinds of prayer.  One is the octopus prayer.  I learn the word for the larvae of dragonflies, used ceremonially as an offering.  I learn the words that mean suspended in the air, as clouds; to travel in the mountains; the track of a god.

And feathers, then.  Hulu means feather or plumage, and also esteemed, precious.  "It's used of esteemed older relatives, and this meaning may be connected with the high value attached to featherwork."  Lele is flight, to fly, to cause to fly (or wind-blown, said of rain); also a sacrificial altar or stand.  Surely the one where the flowers and shells had been laid.  A place from which prayers fly to the gods.  The feather offering I’ve made intuitively, walking at the Temple on the Hill of the Whale, has been exactly right.  (A spray of feathers, brilliant black and white—part of a wing, a bird's wing, or the wing itself.  I pick it up and gingerly carry it back to the platform of offerings under the war temple.  To give my prayer flight.  Continuing life.)

Without Vs I can't write evil, invasion.  But nor can I write avian, reverence, live.

I spend an afternoon among the ancient fishponds, green with reflections, with the trees they drink in.  Elsewhere I see the many beautiful woods, made into graceful bowls.  Hawaiian ash, silver oak, mountain apple, sugi pine.

I learn that the house above the Temple on the Hill of the Whale, the house of King Kamehameha’s son-in-law and advisor, the British seaman, was held together with a mortar made of sand, burnt coral, poi, and hair.

I stop at the two long waterfalls on my way back from Hilo, where I'd gone looking for the red Japanese bridge and the women who used to come with nets to catch little shrimp in the shallows early in the morning, when I was there with my father.

Continuing life.  The prayer I have sent upward, into flight.  The prayer I piece together from all of the found words.

—Christie, September 2001, from Inoa, winner, Dorothy Churchill Cappon Award for the Essay, New Letters Volume 71 No. 2 (winter 2005)

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