Illapa in the Hawaiian Islands

          Illapa, the Inca god of thunder, lightning and rain,
          portrayed holding a war club in one hand, a sling in the other.

Stars were the weather, the constellations,
the consolations. It’s raining stars we said, it’s raining
lost wishes.

Sometimes there was hurricane;
pawpaw trees uprooted and the Cook
pines caved in. We clung like starfish.

What is remembering? The smell of guavas. Mangoes.
Nights scented with white ginger. The celestial river
pulsing overhead.

We sat on grandmother’s porch, feet propped on the railing.
—but the inner constellations?
Lights of memory, lost books of falling wishes.

Grandmother’s eyes. Dolor. Our Lady of Sorrows
washed them down.

Am I painting a history of rain,
the hummingbirds that take refuge in...
but, where do they take refuge?

Am I reading grandmother’s diaries, 1956?
There was rain that year, more rain.

She shattered like Illapa’s jar, a celestial torrent—
psychotic break. There was lightning in her, grandfather
saw it from the balcony sixteen years away.

Her skin was milky and sin-lit; she had wished
grandfather dead and he was dead. Thus
the whir and crack of Illapa’s slinging, thus
the stones from his sling.

Thus my war club, my singing.

Susan Kelly-DeWitt | Mudlark No. 33
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