“Stella” by Elizabeth Chapman

Elizabeth Chapman


for my daughter’s daughter

We’re on a far shore
near the manta ray’s
rock where she folds
and unfolds herself
The stars burst forth
Before the bright hotel
was built the Southern Cross
glowed visible

April in three weeks
you’ll more or less swim
yourself out from the darkness
that still flecks the iris
of your eyes like black salt
from Molokai

The astronomer
loops the naked Pleiades
and through his lens
we can glimpse hidden
as you are still
hidden the cloud
of your bright burning

If I knew how to paint
a guardian spirit
I’d brush an ama kua
right on your crib
A honu in Pacific green
who would hear
every sob and quirk of you

There’s a gate at home
that will not close
missing a latch
I’ve left it open
Some day when you come
seeking riding through
the miles of night
holding onto Leo’s
generous mane
I will wait for you
Stella by starlight

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010
Tribute to Mental Health Workers


Elizabeth Chapman: “I like to think that three elements conspired—literally ‘breathed together’—to bring about my poem, ‘Stella.’ Some planned, some serendipitous: a trip in March to the Kona Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, an evening of stargazing there on the beach, and a birth. At the time, I knew a grandchild was expected, a baby girl, but did not know, until she was born some two weeks later, her name, which of course means ‘star.’ How could I not write this poem?”

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