The Banyan Tree in Hawai’i (Or When Your Head and Home are Not Your Home)

By Laura Mayron ’16

You ask me of my home.
I tell you 1865, 1873, 1883, 1993
(the mynah bird, the banyan tree,
the mongoose, and me—
all invaders).
I tell you
that when I was little
I lived under a banyan tree
whose roots crept under my house
in search of something old, sleeping,
looking for bones washed clean by salt water.

Every morning, covering that tree
like the tides
the mynah birds
screamed before sunrise,
seizing pieces of light in their beaks
as slowly, lowly,
the beach wore away
against the red walls of my house.

I tell you that it’s been twenty years
and five thousand miles
since the mynah birds came to peck
and weep at my window,
but they’re still here,
beady eyes pressed against the inside
of my forehead,
hissing into the channels of my heart,
a different kind of colonizer.

Even here, waking up to snow,
the mynah birds begin their racket,
singing to me of mongoose road kill
flashing its guts like velvet,
decaying hibiscus on the porch,
another body lost at sea.

I can leave, but the old ghosts
of the island keen
under my floorboards,
the altar for five dead teenagers
still sits at the curve of the road,
my head and home are still
not quite my home.


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