Brianne Lauro: Our Faces

An REI member writes about how she has shared the ocean and mountains with her family while growing up in Hawaii.

A tree isn’t the only one to feel the touch of the wind. I’ve felt it too
in those early mornings
beneath the star
as I walked behind my father.

The mountain would be so cold.

I would plod through the grass —
its tips covered with dew
and tuck my little arms
into the long sleeves
of the shirt my father handed down to me.

But as he promised, I would warm up soon.

Gold light
would begin
to flash and trickle through the trees
and the tops of the forest
would begin
to echo with life.

I was 7 or 8, and
we were hunting —
a special way I’ve shared the mountain
with my father
since that time.


The wind that blows a tree on the mountain,
is the same wind that
moves down
and sweeps
over the ocean
before the heat rises.

I’ve felt that too
as I sat on the fish box
of our small boat —
looking over
at my father, uncles, and Papa (grandfather).

With steady hands
my Papa would steer our boat
and we would
over the deep blue.

He would look for landmarks
on the shoreline
as he positioned the boat
for my father and uncles
to hop off and dive.

When I was still too young to go with them,
I stayed on the boat with my Papa
and fished.

In time, I jumped in the water with the divers
and would watch
as they would hold their breaths
and glide down
to the bottom of a reef
colored with fish.

I was 7 or 8, and
we were spearfishing —
a special way that I’ve shared the ocean
with my father, uncles, and Papa
since that time.


And so

when you see the outdoors,
I hope you see our faces.

The faces of me (as a young girl),
my father,
and Papa —
not to mention
of all those who came before us.

I hope you see
the faces of those
whose minds
fill a mountain with teachings
and an ocean with knowledge.

I hope you see
the faces of those
whose voices
fill a forest with whistles
and a coast with laughter.

This is my story,
one of a young, local girl
from the Big Island of Hawaii

who was brought
close together,

by the mountains and the ocean,

through all the times I’ve shared
in those special ways,

with my family.