Poems and Poetry

Trish Saunders

Starwatching at Your Own Risk | A Poem by Trish Saunders

For years afterward, the children would remember
their visit to the planetarium with great fear. They were
enthralled by streams of stars stretching across a
vast dome of sky. Only the brochure frightened them.

“Welcome to Mauna Kea Observatory on the Island of Hawaii.
You have never before stood so close to the stars.
Throughout the night, telescopes will be pointed at
various objects in the sky. You may see nebulae, clusters,
comets. You may feel lightheaded, short of breath.
Be sure to dress warmly. Do not drink alcohol or overeat.
If you are recovering from a doomed love affair; if you
are pregnant or trying to be; if you are prone to fits of
ecstasy or delusions that you can fly; if you’ve been diagnosed
as irrational, flighty, or strange; if people call you bi-polar,
please think twice before proceeding further.

“If your children are under age 11, please delay their
visit until they reach puberty. You may visit the snack bar
and gift shop in the lobby.”

“If you wish to climb to the summit, do so at your own risk.
Mahalo and enjoy your visit!”

“That’s bull,” said the father. “Walk right up, children. Up to
the stars.”

One Hour Before Boarding Hawaiian Air | A Poem by Trish Saunders

At the bend in the Kamehameha Highway
just past the shrimp truck and shave-ice shack
my cabdriver smokes and glares. Waits.
I’m leaving my island home now, just
one last look back at the Pali cliffs.

It was dangerous to live here so long.

The years rolled backward
and I became a spear thrower,
suspicious of change.

I noticed years passing when my hands
suddenly looked older,
skyscrapers obliterated
the Ko’olaus. Goodbye, then.

Mahalo, Marcia, friend from my youth.
We saw our aging bodies reflected
in the other’s glances, and
discreetly looked away.

To my mother Sara—
your ashes have joined
the Pacific by now, small birds
in the refuge have swallowed you.

My sisters and I will wait for you
in our small twin beds, willing
your yellow hair to fall
across our faces at night,
the storybook open in your hands.

Why the Golden Plover Stands | A Poem by Trish Saunders

I came to study the language of trees,
an ancient tongue assumed extinct,
like the Laysan honeycreeper or
shave-ice shacks on
Like-Like Highway, where Aloha Gas now sits.

I came to study koas and palms.
I found an old brick wall with a
golden plover standing motionless
beside it, though he flies
1,600 miles from Alaska without rest.

Like the plover, I came expecting more.