Hawaiian Journal
page 17


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Return to Hilo


I spent several hours in the Hawaii County Library, first looking up names of places I went to on Maui, then reading the most recent issues of Time and Newsweek. The world’s still out there.

And here I am back at Onekahakaha. Suddenly I hear a scream! AAUUGH! And there, clashing stick swords and garbage-can-lid shields are four roughly ten year olds.

This park seems much smaller than it did when I was here with my friends. There’s where Maggan and I sat, the camping area, the pavilions, all a minimal walk, all in sight of each other.

I got a very nice shell near my campsite, one of those medium sized knobby conchs, maybe three inches long.

The sea here is kind of a dark spruce green. Like Maggan, I’m searching for the right words. The eastern slope of Mauna Kea plunges toward the sea across the bay. The summit is hidden by clouds, the sun pale and also getting lost in clouds and wispy lava pine trees. The breeze is cool but not yet cutting, strong enough to make my tent concave on the windward side, convex on the lee side. There should be a place where I can see both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Hilo Bay is between them.

I’ve tied my tent to a Pandanus and some big-leafed thing. The medium sized longhorned ants are here in force. And one cat, no, two cats, going through mating approaches. PRAAUUU! They’re both black striped tabbies with white, one big, one rather small.

I read in the newspaper that a rain in Waimea gave the north Kona/Kohala coast two more days of water. The sunny side of this island’s having drought.


Tree and Mauna Kea slope as framed by pavilion window.


The Ex-President’s Smile

On the bottom of the front page
is a picture of Jimmy Carter smiling,
telling reporters he thinks he did all right
getting the embassy hostages freed,
whatever Ronald Reagan says,
but has nothing to say about
the economy. He was snorkeling
when the new president made his speech.

In the pictures he is smiling,
thinking of pretty fish perhaps,
or his wife. He’s smiling because
the economy’s not his problem any more.
He’s left it behind, has other things
to do with his life than be president.


The Wailua River

It begins in the state park there.
The mouth is over this way,
where the small motorboats that shoot
into the bay like bullets are docked.

It’s less than half a mile long.
Its industry is the Hilo Iron Works,
with clattering mill, grumbling trucks,
beer cans and pines with twittering birds.

A big splash. I don’t see what made it.
The water’s fresh and clear
with lots of small to trout sized fish,
a deep bodied fish with orange fins.

Two Hawaiian men paddle a canoe,
one young, one old with gray hair.


I went to Wailua Center, where there was an art exhibit of works from schools all over the island. A wood print of faces and a scratchboard face especially impressed me. I can see trends: the elementary school art reaches a certain stylistic peak, declines toward 6th grade and junior high, then gets better again, that switch from symbols to drawing things the way they look mentioned in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The high schoolers draw much better than they paint. In elementary school, there’s no difference.


The Last Trip to Kilauea


Thursday, February 12, 1981

I’m walking the Sandalwood Trail, the only trail in Kilauea Crater I haven’t already walked at least once. The tree molds are pretty dull. They look like wells, round stone-lined pits, five to twenty feet deep. I didn’t realize ohias even grew as large as these trees must have been.


Halemaumau at Dusk

The steam of the crater
mixes with
the cold mist of the sky.
Insects drone.
A distant bird makes a noise
like a geiger counter
raised several octaves.


Hilo Airport


Friday, February 13, 1981

I’m looking back at stuff I wrote my last days on Maui. It wasn’t Maui I hated so much as being alone. I got out of that one, at least for a week. I’m glad to be on my way back to Kahului now.

I feel bombarded by palm trees, clouds and sunshine, standing beside the road. At least on Maui I don’t have to hold my arm up to get a ride.

This is my last hour on Hawaii. Tonight I’ll be on Maui again. This airport is an assault on my senses. It doesn’t even have any chairs, just large plastic blocks to sit on and I’ve been here for hours.

If I’d known it was like this in here, I’d have gone in much earlier. Not only are there decent chairs, but an art exhibit of photographs of the Waipia Valley.

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