Hawaiian Journal
page 20


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Humpback Whales


Thursday, February 19, 1981

This morning I saw humpback whales spouting and diving off the mouth of the Oheo. Their spout is not like any rock splashes, then the dark round back and small fin, then the big tail flukes. One lept out of the water and splashed quite close to shore but I missed most of that; I was looking the wrong place. A small group passed by going south, then one passed going north.

Humpbacks get to be 75 feet long, said Angela, the girl I was talking to, who looks about 16. She told me she once watched them off South Point on the Big Island where they came even closer and jumped out of the water. She said she swam right next to a whale in an aquarium, and wished she could out here. She’s helping her dad get settled here on Maui; her mom and stepdad live on the Big Island.

That gave me a momentary pang of sadness. I don’t want to think about people breaking up and reshuffling. I’d rather think of whales— or the girl herself; she’s a cheerful soul.

Think of whales, swimming in paths that twist around each other, coming to Maui to mate. Their wake is the strong cord that binds the earth together. Their music is the sound that makes the ocean. Whales are the divine energy that creates the world.

I’m forcing it. But to think of tons and tons, all alive, all one intelligent mind, and there are thousands of them.

There’s billions of us. Why so many? Why not live on an earth of greater variety? It wouldn’t take more than a million years for life to rediversify, less time than that if we helped. Why should we humans monopolize the ecosystem?

Why should whales be so uncommon that a glimpse of part of its body, the condensation of its breath, should thrill me so?

On the other hand, deer thrill me, and they’re more common now than they were before we humans started interfering. I guess I’m thrilled by wildness, by something not human, with desires and motivations and life of its own.

Last night I visualized myself a round trip to Hana, getting water from the Church, early in the morning. I got back to Seven Pools just before noon and didn’t have to stand by the side of the road for long. Thanks, universe. That worked just fine. Now I can stay here the rest of today and all tomorrow.

Last November I was complaining that life is a rough draft. If I visualize what I want to happen first, it’s not a rough draft. The visualization is the rough draft.


Friday, February 20, 1981

Yesterday a conversation with Posie and John led me indirectly to Angela the whale girl and her father Arthur. The idea of smoking shake, supposedly weaker marijuana, appealed to me, so how did I get that stoned? I don’t understand their way of life. Being stoned all the time just fuddles me, and I have no reason to want to be fuddled. So let’s let them all trip without me.

That’s a whole range of people, from Tom the computer salesman who gave Posie, John, and me a ride to Hana, to Arthur the record-setting mushroom tripper. I think of the extremes, it was easier for me to relate to the computer salesman. After watching Arthur I think I know why he and Angela’s mom broke up. He orders Angela around relentlessly and wants to his consciousness chemically scrambled all the time. Wives don’t put up with much of that.


I’m on the Waimoko Falls trail, at the first big pool above the bridge. The sun is shining, the sky is clearing. The water reflects the rocks and jungle trees. I like the way the reflection looks like a silk tapestry, woven so only the weft shows. The reflection looks more beautiful than what is reflected. Monet explored that world.

The rain did raise the stream some. It’s crackling over the gravel above Makahuku Falls.

Tolkien says Men listen to streams and don’t know why they like the sound. Elves know it’s the closest sound to the music of the Ainur that created the world.


I’m not sure what’s happening here. Some Maui ants are swarming beside an obscure Oheo River pool, falling into the water like lemmings into the sea. They can’t walk on water; they get stuck. Sometimes they stick together in rafts of thrashing ants several inches in diameter. Now the faintest breeze is blowing them across the pond. What are they doing? They’re not moving their home; they carry no eggs or cocoons. How could they possibly be foraging? Now there’s a long streak of ants across the pond. There must be millions of ants here, thousands stuck on the water and dying.


Here I am at the convergence pool, which looks quite murky today. Well, so was the pool where the ants committed mass lemming. Both waterfalls are bigger and rougher than when I drew them, but especially Pipiwei. Maybe I should go up and see what Waimoko Falls looks like. Funny, but Palikea Stream looks clean and Pipiwei is muddy.



Here’s Waimoko Falls on the Pipiwei stream on the right, and Palikea Stream’s waterfall on the left. They’re both really going, maybe four or five times as much water as yesterday.

It’s drizzling so I came back to the convergence pool, where there’s a dry shallow cave.


Arthur said you never see native Hawaiians at Seven Pools, Hana Bay, Koki Beach, or Red Sand Beach. He said these places are kapu to married couples, a jealousy thing I guess. So why wouldn’t they come as couples? Anyway, I’ve seen plenty of Hawaiians at Hana Bay, and quite a few young surfers at Koki when conditions are right. True, there’s not many older Hawaiians, but there’s not many older anybodies.

Being stoned makes me impressionable. I’m only going to do it when I’m in surroundings that are safe and familiar, with people I know. I don’t need Arthur’s kind of input. Yet he says he had lots of Hawaiian friends on the Big Island, where I experienced hostility. Different people like different islands. I like the mainland.

I just got back to the sea and saw a whale, spout, back, tail. Since a tail means a dive, it was quite a while before I saw more. Then a spout, another spout, two arching backs, twice, and I think I saw the head of one. Another long pause. Same pair, I think, over this way, high backs four times, often spouting together. A last glimpse of twin spouts to the south.

Here’s Arthur, Angela, and Posie again. They’re wearing thin on me. This doesn’t mean I want to be alone. I just don’t know how to relate to these particular people. Angela and I both like to watch whales, but beyond that we diverge. They’re catatonic. I’m poised to leap into action.

My life is welling up behind a dam called Hawaiian Islands and when I get home things will happen fast. So I should decide what I want to do, edit a poetry anthology, or go to painting and drawing classes at College of the Redwoods.

Two couples just came here in an old Malibu, their movements around the car, getting out, waving at me, opening the trunk, a picture taken of the women, the oil checked, all performed like some sort of dance.

A whale way out there breached and belly flopped about ten times.

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