Keiki Leni Ward

“My name is Keiki Leni Ward. I’m a spoken word poet and former student at Ravenswood Middle School. I write about my history and heritage, my environment, my community, and my hopes as a young woman of color. I have entered different poetry contests and have had my work featured by the Ravenswood Education Foundation as part of their Giving Tuesday campaign. My poem, “Mirroring Sea,” about sea level rise and its impact on East Palo Alto, is featured in the San Mateo County Youth Ecopoetry Project.”

Ecopoem

MIRRORING SEA

Please don’t forget us. As the tides rise over our islands and wipe away our emotions and drown our throats. 

Please don’t forget us. My ancestors speak in their native language that sounds like water and their sandy voices that engrave themselves into the sand and build the foundation of our land. 

Don’t forget us as the stars slowly disappear, leaving us lost at sea looking for our home. 

Our ancestors spoke to the sky and blessed the land. 

In the sky the sun would open up like a refreshing window for the soul and the stars would open up to us like the eyes of our own spirituality. 

Yet the ocean spoke to us in a surrounding crowd of whispers and danced around as many different truths we had to face. 

A true reflection of ourselves that we are blind to. 

As the water rises and hides my tears, drowning my overlooked throat. I pray that the stars may reach out to me and guide me home. 

I pray that my ancestors can teach me. 

I pray that my lost language will find me and soften my tongue bearing the language of freedom and the sweet sappy fruit of knowledge. 

I pray that I will still be able to go home. 

The ocean that brought us here, wishes to take us back now. Slowly the ocean takes her hand over my people and pulls us back, she is taking back what is hers. 

The blurring reflection of us all, that we took too much and now the ocean wishes to take back. 

The ocean isn’t just a reflection of ourselves but rather the confrontation of human limits and certain moral greed. 

She holds us close and the ocean kisses our foreheads as she carries our ancestors away, and our home day by day. 

The stars comfort us and the moon carries us into another lifetime, this time where the ocean speaks to us in the voices of our people and allows us to stay. 

Come back for me as the stars and the moon. 

I wish for my people to come back to me. I wish for my home to come back to me and I pray that the ocean may allow us the chance to understand her and ourselves. 

Copyright © 2022 by Keiki Leni Ward. Used with permission of the author.

Read Keiki Leni’s poem on identity, “Petunia”.