Back When We Lived With Ghosts
Kamehameha Schools, Kapiolani Nui Dormitory, 1990
We lived with na lapu though half of that first year
before Kahu stood in the piko of our meeting circle,
and asked them politely to move on toward God.
Most were harmless, really, but kolohe-running past
our doors during study hall with heavy, unseen feet.
Remember when Lani said one blew a cold wind
on her cheek as she proved the degrees of an isosceles
triangle for homework? When the window slammed
behind Hoku, but there was no wind? We believed
the sophomores when they saw the green lady
in the piano room. And at night we heard laughter
coming from the forest, but couldn't see anyone
among the shadows of the trees, and the furniture
shifting across the floor in the attic, where they kept
what belonged to Princess Pauahi, according to Irene.
But some were different – weren't they? Kanoe cried
when she told us how her tutu sat at her bed's edge
to sing her blessings of aloha before saying goodbye.
And the one I saw, and told you about … the faint outline
of a man who seemed startled by my waking from a dream.
He saw me see him, paused, then ran into the next room.
It happened quickly and I was afraid … that was my story …
But I didn't tell you how much more afraid he was,
standing by my bed, the same size of my father, then gone
for two years … with the same hesitance to speak.
Sisters, which ghosts have you kept to yourselves through the years?