Sundays I tend to my hanging plants
and wipe the melamine bowls
but once these tasks were too much
I let dust cast herself over each surface
and bury all fingerprints
for weeks I forgot to fear what cannot be seen
what roots behind armchairs and walls
I kept the curtains open out of necessity
until late one summer evening
the house unveiled itself in a winged swarm
and I too drifted from room-to-room
like a ghost unaware of my choices
When they land, anoint them with lei
of tuberose blossoms,
handle their luggage
with the care of neatly-packed
across an ocean to see you.
They’re in your hands now,
so hula-boola them through midtown
traffic, navigating lanes
like the smooth frets
of the slack-key radio.
Take the scenic route:
swing by the historic palace,
pausing for a photo
at the king’s statue,
then guide them through
the lobbies of trade book imaginations—
Tip the valet, tip the bellboy!—
and make toasts to pink sunsets
queued like a backdrop
to their mai tai portraits.
Rise again to show them
the city of luxury imports—that silk road
of endless summer shopping
as you glide by Ala Wai canoes,
gridlocked condo construction,
and tent villages that confuse
their ideas of progress.
Resurrect your spirit once again
at a Chinatown bar well-stocked
with foreign/domestic taps
while they search for newfound discoveries:
tiki icons, paper lanterns, a waving lucky cat.
And when they finally ask
for something local, be ready with poi
and liquid-smoked pig.
Let them kiss the crooning kahuna
on the Astroturf stage. Let them
mispronounce every street.
This is vacation, after all,
and they want it shelled, clean, and chill.
They’ve paid for it.
They’ve recited their mahalos.
For God’s sake,
give them some aloha.
Emily A. Benton is a poetry editor for storySouth and a former editor for The Greensboro Review and the University of Hawai‘i Press. Her poems have also appeared in journals such as ZYZZYVA, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Harpur Palate, and Southern Poetry Review. Raised in Tennessee and a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at UNC Greensboro, she lived and worked in Hawai‘i from 2012 to 2020. She and her partner, writer Spencer Kealamakia, now split their time between Georgia and the Big Island.