The rise of Papohaku Beach fills with builders. Worms of shaved wood curl off stone chisels. The breeze carries the scent of koa. They are hollowing out the logs brought down by Moloka’i men from the forest at Kualapu’u. Women braid luahala that will become sails. Girls sing of my triumph, weaving their spell into the fabric.
The peleleu? Two single hulls lashed together. An ohi’a platform between the hulls keeps this big canoe steady through rough seas. It has a sandalwood mast and a luahala sail. The wind and paddlers will guide my peleleu fleet over the Channel of Bones for the shores of Waikiki.
Kalanikapule will be waiting with his Oahuans, an army of killers anxious to rip open our flesh with spears and daggers. Some will fire muskets when the fleet floats over the reef and enters the shallows. But that battle is a good two years off, the time it takes to build 800 canoes. I ask Kūkaʻilimoku, the god of war, for his patience. His time will come. The wind kicks up. The red feathers on his face bristle as he anticipates a war between kings and the sweet smell of blood.
Kirby Michael Wright’s new book is THE QUEEN OF MOLOKA’I, a work of creative nonfiction based on the life and times of his paternal grandmother.