In Fire Red

He asked me for a list
I’m seeing a man at the florist
My wrinkled page slid on a glass counter top

I’ll ask for a protea
A single protea
Wooden branch for a stem
A bloom like a baby cabbage
With pink velvet petals and a white coned center

All Beauty requested of her father was that he bring her a single rose

Better yet,
Bring me a bag of sand
I want to smell home again
The salt
I want to heft it in my hands
Sunset hues
Press my check against it and let it soak up my longing

A bag of sand is precious
And common
Seven-hundred and sixty six miles of beach
Each person in Hawaii is allowed seven pounds a year

Waikiki Beach has fake sand
Shipped from California
Fake sand strikes me strangely
Like silk flowers
Plastic, the bees don’t gather here
They do not perch black fuzzy legs
They do not dance

Sand is a bouquet
Tiny microscopic shells of creatures long dead
And coral long eaten
And deposited by the jaws and bowels of parrot fish

I never liked proteas before I moved to the mainland
It’s fall now
And all the trees look like shower trees on fire
The leaves do not droop but remain, perched, parched
And dry
The rustling sounds like waves crashing in the wintertime
When the roads fog with salt

I never liked Protea
They were common to me
Freakish woody flower without a smell
That tourists would gape at
And locals would sell out of buckets on the side of the road
Roses didn’t grow naturally
Or well
Daisies either
Expensive and exotic
I wanted them to grow beside my banana trees
And make friend with the hapu fern tree with orange gold fur
And branches that come out in green lace spirals

I ask for what I cannot have
When I return home I will want a single October oak leaf
In fire red



About the Poet:
Deanna Kawena Kubota was the youngest writer in her writing group at age eight and remained the youngest writer until twenty eight. She has won several writing awards and scholarships including the 2014 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Scholarship, The Bitchin Kitchen Anti-Valentine’s Day Poem Contest. She is still surprised and delighted that you can get a degree in writing Children’s Literature.


Photo by Cor Gaasbeek.


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