Birthright and Koʻu Inoa


Meet the author: Denise ʻAkaloka Rivers



you denied me

ancestors. Mother tongue

deflated in my mouth, teeth stained


Ko’u Inoa

‘O Wai Kou Inoa?

I want to peel back

history-rich lineage

layers of legacy

an homage to

my ancestors

I want to embody

rare beauty

e like me ka mamo

o  na liko lehua

i ka Mauna ‘O Kumukahi.

I want to be blessed

to give good fortune

a chance to commence

jade green and vital

as fresh bamboo shoots

coaxed to coil for luck

I want to reveal

kaona thick as poi

and pa’i ai pure

but my given name is empty

and the  koko my father provided

mother diluted with another man’s name

But two decades postpartum

and not a moment too soon

kupuna made me her namesake

negating my false sense of identity

deeming me, full of laughter

O ʻAkaloka koʻu inoa.

Credits: Video by Robert Delim and Kat Camit; post feature photo courtesy of Kahoʻolemana Naone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *