Dreaming In Hawai’ian

“I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t I get that day over, and over, and over…”

— Phil Connors (Bill Murray), Groundhog Day

A few years ago, on the last night of our stay in Hawai’i, my sister and I walked along Waikiki Beach and came across a hula performance by groups from neighboring islands. The costumes were varied from traditional sarongs, mu’umu’u, and grass skirts, and leis made of orchids, plumeria, kukui nut, and ti leaf. One particular little dark-haired girl, who couldn’t have been more than five, danced adorably in the front row. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, she was so graceful and cute.

One gentleman explained the movements of a hula from his home island of Kaua’i, telling us the words in Hawai’ian and then translating to English. The language was as poetic and sensual as the dance itself.

Aloha a’e au i ku’u ‘âina…I recall with fondness my homeland…I ke kû kilakila ‘o Wai’ale’ale…Where Wai’ale’ale stands majestically…‘O ke one kaulana a’o Nohili…The famous sands of Nohili…‘Apo iho â pa’a pono la i ka poli…That one holds in one’s heart…Nâ hala onaona a’o Mâpuana…The fragrant hala of Mâpuana…E naue ‘oe i ka ‘oni a ke kai…Seems to reach out to the restless sea…Inâ paha ‘oe â e ‘ike ai…If you can only see the beauty…I ka nani o ka Wai’ânapanapa…Of the glistening water…Hô’oni’oni iki iho ana ‘oe…Being with you in this peaceful area…A he honehone i ke kumu o ka hana…To do the things together with you…Ha’ina ‘ia mai ana ka puana…This is the end of my praise…Ua nani Kaua’i i ka mâlie…Of beautiful Kaua’i in the calm.

I marveled at the beauty of the prose, inspired by the magnificence of his homeland, and was moved by how wonderful it must feel to come from a place so filled with loveliness that you want to literally sing its praises.

Thinking of my own heritage and homeland, I turned to my sister and said, “Well, we have the polka, right?”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011


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