I am called Kinohi. My forebears were gods, worshiped once. In exchange, they kept our kind free from harm. I am of them and thus also a god.
Once we had dominion over all the islands, as far as the eye could see, from the heavens to the trees to the palm-frond covered ground. We had our enemies, yes, but we could make the sun go dark from our great numbers when our wings covered the sky. They could not conquer us then, before the illness. We were too many.
What is there to say now? I am weary of it. Here the sun shines, there is food, and my captors, out of respect for our well-known greatness, bring me women to amuse me, but I am not amused. I am old and tired. I want only to be alone with my visions.
I was in love once. She would come to me adorned with many brightly hued feathers and with a look, a beauty, you could not ignore. I swooned in her presence, it is true, but we broke too many ancient taboos, our being together, and so I ended it, as I always do, with a cold stare and a turning away. Her cries haunted me thereafter, until lagging memory dulled the thrill of her.
How many years has it been now? I have lost count. The one woman I will see, for whom, I must admit, I do have some affection, tries her best to amuse me, to do more, if I am forthright in my account of it. She wishes only to please me, to arouse some passion in me. I want to indulge her, but to no avail. Sometimes when she strokes me with her soft and true touch, I do feel the beginning of some stirring deep within, but mostly these feelings are borne of the visions she starts in me, of the proud gods we once were and of the world we once inhabited.
Our glistening wings, shining in the sun, we dive among the trees and to the ground in search of food, the bounty, the nectar that Mother Earth provided.
Such plenty I see when I close my eyes. I fly high above the tree line and over the flowered fields. I look down on the verdant earth and see many animals—small and wily, large and majestic. The seas roil with silver skin. Beneath the surface, fans wave, the color of emeralds and rubies. Mounds of once molten rock hold creatures of all descriptions, some long and slithering, others large and small, but all lighting up the sea with the colors of sparkling gems. In the air around me, all manner of winged creatures—in the meadows the smallest ones, vying with the bees, dart from flower to flower, while in the darkening sky, the largest with beaks strong enough to break a spine, prowl for prey.
She thinks it is my lust that causes me to shudder, but as the visions fade, it is loss that overcomes me.
Where are those skies, those seas, that earth of my blood memory? Am I to be the last of my kind, all of us turned to dust? What have they done, these captors, to the Mother who sustained us?
And who will escape our fate?
According to a 2014 article in The New York Times, Kinohi, an “alala” or Hawaiian crow, born at a captive breeding facility over two decades ago, now resides at the San Diego Zoo. “An odd, solitary bird,” he has refused to mate, further limiting chances of survival for his species. Native Hawaiians consider the alala to be an “Aumakua,” a family god in Hawaii. It is considered extremely bad luck to harm one.
Jean P. Moore’s work has appeared in up street, SN Review, Adanna, The Timberline Review, Distillery, Skirt, Slow Trains, Persimmon Tree, Long Island Woman, the Hartford Courant, Greenwich Time, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her novel, Water on the Moon, won the Independent Publishers Book Award for Contemporary Fiction, 2015.
This piece was originally published on Flash Flash Click. We are honored to host it here in partnership and collaboration.
Image: “Island” by Joshua Jardekah Aguilar