SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Back in the Tiki Days by Catherine Keefe

A boy stands in the holding pen

of Disneyland's Tiki Room, tries


to tell Mother truth, but she

won't stop looking at her phone even


when he beats rhythm on her knee,

a banana leaf slapping sand MA-ma,


MA-ma. Everyone drove canoes

and ate pineapples. There was rain


and drums and I wish I lived back

then. I bend my knees to meet this child's


eyes. Oh, I remember the Tiki Days with all that

pineapple, rain and drums. Remember


the dancing? Like seaweed. Like dolphins. 

My hand undulates the horizon in


floating waves anyone can see except

his mother who yanks his arm. I remember


the Tiki Days too and those were the good old

days before kids. The boy resumes softly slapping


his mother's bare knee, back of his hand, open 

palm, swishing gently on her skin. In his rhythm, MA-


ma, MA-ma, MA-ma. He folds in 

upon himself, a kapa cloth with perfect


plaited corners, lays himself down in the bottom

of a koa canoe, pushes off to sail by the stars


you may only see in the dark.

Catherine Keefe is a California poet, essayist, social justice activist, and 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee. Recent work appeared in TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics; The Gettysburg Review; and the anthologies Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry (Grayson Books, 2017) and Thirty Days: The Best of Tupelo Press 30/30 Project's First Year (2015). Catherine teaches writing at Chapman University and is a member of the Orange County Human Relations Commission Anti-Hate Speakers Assembly.

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