NUCLEAR GIFT: MRS. KEITLYN KONOU FROM BIKINI ATOLL TALKS ABOUT HER JELLYFISH BABIES
My mother and sisters
come to my house to take care of me
because none of us have children that survived.
My mother goes to the fortune teller
pays her to remove this curse
from our family and help us
return home to Bikini.
Fortune teller says
our ancestors cannot find us
on Ron̄dik, Kuwajleen, then Kōle.
She gives us charms to attract spirits
to come help us.
When my sixth boy comes,
he is like his brothers.
I cry. I want to die.
I go to the beach
to drown myself.
I walk into the warm sea,
six sharks swim
into the shallows and against my legs.
I grab hold of two top fins,
they pull me out,
past the shallows,
past the reef,
into the black part of the ocean.
I let go of their fins. I am not scared:
they love me and I love them. Out there,
surrounded by nothing,
I sink into the saltwater,
ready to give up.
Then one fin, pokes out of the water.
Then, two. Ten. Twenty.
I look under me into the water,
hundreds of sharks
swimming under me
like black darts.
I think about my ancestors,
my husband, parents, and my beautiful sisters.
I cannot let anything kill me or
destroy this shiver of sharks.
The ancestors show me
that I, too, am a shark.
All together, we swim in same direction.
I start to kick and paddle
for the shore. The six sharks
swim to me but I push them away.
Only I can save myself.
My breathing comes hard but
I am a fighter.
I am Keitlyn from Bikini.
And I became strongest in the
saddest time of my life.
Lisa Ann Katagiri Bright reads "Nuclear Gift...":
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Kimo confesses: "This poem comes from my new collection of poems, These Shackles Fit Perfectly. I explore the narratives of Pacific peoples and their unique voice."