by Rose Anna Higashi

Like the voyagers who paddled through the dark waters
And found their way from Tahiti to far away Hawaii
With nothing but the wooden canoes their own hands crafted,
We must rely on signs, look to the stars as they move
Through the heavens, note the phases of the moon
And the shifts in the sun’s risings.
We must listen to the elders who remember
Winters so cold even the foxes and the wolves
Drew near to our fires, and the dogs who had come to live with us
Lay down beside us to share their warm coats
With our freezing bodies in exchange for a bone to gnaw.
The old ones also recall summers so hot that nothing mattered
More than water, and wildfires were more deadly
Than the bitter driving snow and the avalanche
That could take a whole village away.
Now these horrors have returned, and we
Must learn to be the watchers.
We must see the first crocus pushing through the snow,
The new leaves on the dogwood,
The fireflies flitting through the warm night air.
These are the gifts we must never squander—
Bright red berries in the healing sunlight,
Golden crowns of corn in the long summer days
And every drop of water that falls
From God’s generous sky.

Rose Anna Higashi taught Japanese Literature, English Literature, Poetry and Creative Writing at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, California for thirty-five years. Upon retirement, she was drafted by the Catholic Diocese of San Jose to serve as a Lay Ecclesial Minister. Commissioned by then-Bishop Patrick McGrath, Rose Anna served for nine years as Director of Adult Religious Education at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Los Gatos. She now lives in Kaaawa, Hawaii with her husband of fifty-nine years, Wayne Higashi.

Rose Anna’s poetry journal, Blue Wings, was published by Paulist Press, and many of her lyric poems and haiku can be viewed on her website, myteaplanner.com, where her monthly blog, “Tea and Travels,” is also published. Her poems and essays have also appeared in a variety of other publications, including The Avocet, The California Quarterly, Caesura, Poets Online, The Catholic Poetry Room, and the College English textbooks, Visions Across the Americas and Thresholds.

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