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When You were Here
Nanumea Island, Central Pacific, September 6, 1842

Morning sun lingered in the lagoon
     Replacing afternoon for three days
          Replacing darkness until midnight
               Replacing the cock's crow at dawn

Coconuts climbed down the trees on the backs of lizards
     And gave themselves to the crabs and me
          And gave themselves to thirsty Tongans
               And gave themselves to the sea at night

Tapa cloth leapt out to sea one playful day
     And made the fish prettier
          And made the dolphins dance upright
               And made the fishermen paddle hard to catch it

Clouds wrapped my head for sleep
     And sailed low on the canoes for twelve days
          And lifted lovers off their sleeping mats at night
               And cast about with fog making islets disappear

Reef came ashore on legs one night
     And cut lumber for a new house
          And asked the men to mend their nets
               And took some crabs home

Sunset came to me in a dress one evening
     And gave me red lips softer than birds
          And showed me orange smoke that soothed the eyes
               And thickened me with desire

Missionary pierced the horizon one day in a ship
     And came ashore in a chair
          And gave himself to the people
               And lifted lovers off their sleeping mats at night

Warrior came ashore one night and took you away
     Slamming my heart with thunder
          Drenching my fire with cloudburst
               Replacing the morning sun with darkness