West Maui Praise

1.

Palm branches above me rise and sway,
moved by an imperceptible breeze,
lifting their long arms to heaven
like Pentecostal ministers.
They rustle like rain sticks.

Flecks of white flash across the sea—
rock doves glide between the white caps.
Seven shades of blue spread from the
horizon, above and below,
like an endless paint swatch.

I breathe in prayers bigger than this island.
I lean and loaf where praise begins,
nose to the canvas, noticing
each atom’s splendid placement in
pointillist perfection.

2.

We saw a rainbow this morning.
One side plunged into the sea
in holographic imprecision,
the other fell behind Molokai
through a tattered patch of clouds.

The guests at our condo trickled
out of oceanside patios
onto the wet grass and slick pavement
that runs along the seawall,
blinking in the early light,

which set ablaze the monochromes of night,
the muted indigo and berry blue
that draped the earth like bedsheets.
The sky glowed orange, mesmerizing
as calm flowing lava.

They take first cautious sips of coffee
from mugs wrapped with both hands
like a long-neglected sacrament.
Some notice neighbors they met last night
and smile quick hellos.

Cameras come out of pajama pockets
and tilt to the heavens, striving
without success to capture in full
the multicolored arc. Richard of York
gave battle in vain—

nature outwits technology.
The bow lengthens, deepens in hue, then fades
like the glory of 19th century optimism.
The congregants shuffle back inside
to tend to glowing rectangles.

I think of Proust, his disappointments at Balbec—
the church he imagined perched
on wave-washed cliffs, gulls wheeling above
the spray, but was 15 miles inland
at the junction of two trolly lines.

3.

I stay and watch wide-eyed pigeons pace
the terrace like tourists looking for car keys.
Java sparrows hop in mango trees
tilting their heads to eye the swollen fruit that fell
last night along the path.

In the corner of my eye, crotons flash like tigers.
Madagascar jasmine bursts with white
along the mottled railing.
The contrast reminds me of popcorn
in a cast iron pan.

I rejoice in these interstices.
I fill the shore with marginalia,
glossing nature’s wordless speech
in finger-deep furrows that lilting
waves will shortly reach.

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