An unexpected opportunity came our way before the new year: a family relocating to Seattle requested our home on Airbnb for two months while they looked for a house to buy. Did we want to rent our house for two of the rainiest months of the year? Absolutely. Where did we want to go? We had fun brainstorming options (New Zealand? Mexico? Spain?) before opting for Hawaii where my husband could work early hours and spend the afternoon in the sunshine, my best friend from college lives close by, grandmothers could easily visit, and we could walk barefoot to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world: Lanikai.

After taking two inspiring poetry classes at Hugo House back in autumn, I traveled with two notebooks filled with writing prompts I wanted to explore. I didn't fill all the notebooks, but I did come home with a few poems. Here are two to share a glimpse of our time on the island.


~For Frank O’Hara

This is about as far
from your Manhattan as it gets,
But we-can-do-this-
we-can-do-that here too
you know.
We’ll jump out of bed and share
halved papaya with lime on the lanai
and I’ll show you my palm trees.
I’ll tuck a plumeria blossom behind
your ear - you will look
so jaunty. Don’t worry
I’m sure we can find Galoises
somewhere on this island
maybe the Kalapawai Market
though I haven’t smoked in years.
I’ll take you to the Bishop Museum
to see the kapa weavings
and you can talk shop with the curators.
If you want a ukulele I know
just where we can find one.
I’d like to see you in an Aloha shirt,
but I won’t insist.
For lunch a poke sampler
from some counter and we
definitely need to grab fresh malasadas
and more coffee at Agnes’s for dessert.
Later a walk on Lanikai Beach
and a swim. I will introduce you to
some surfer boys and we
can all take naps in the shade
Isn’t this so much better
than Fire Island?
You can escape the crowds here,
let all those painters and
heiresses miss you
just one more day.
An evening paddle -  
have you seen whales before,
dolphins? They will blow
your mind. Then we can drink daiquiris,
(real ones not the syrupy kind) at Buzz’s
and have a few pupus. A
walk back to the house to watch
the moonrise while we
grill Opah and talk-story. You
can read us some new poems and
charm us all. Oh Frank!
You’ll love it.


I had always imagined it as an elegant
country house in Cornwall or Galicia
with a library, extensive gardens and a
long dining table to seat many friends.
But now I think surely it is a small beach house
just like this with plastic buckets, shovels and balls
strewn about the yard, sea kayak and beach
cruisers leaning against the fence, colorful
bathing suits drying on the line. Our children’s
small tanned bodies sleep beneath
ceiling fans after a day in the bright air
running in and out of the ocean. Just down 
the loop, waters a hue of turquoise I can never
fully believe lap sand the exact texture of
brown sugar. Two picturesque islands wait, close 
enough to reach in a fifteen minute paddle. 
Plumeria, jasmine and red hibiscus bloom 
in the garden and we treasure the palm trees. 
Neighbors drop by with avocados, strangers smile,
old friends visit. More than content, we live here
far from the noise of cities. You and I sit beneath
a canopy of stars sipping cold glasses of wine.
We breathe together, happy knowing all this
will be here tomorrow when we wake 
and weeks before we have to leave.

1 comment:

  1. Sarah, I enjoyed reading your poems. In "Arcadia," I especially like the line about the children's "small tanned bodies" - evokes so many memories! - and "the bright air / running in and out of the ocean." What a paradisal time for you and your family! Hope to introduce our husbands to each other some evening soon ...

    Judy Lightfoot