Amidst a Thousand Islands

Dreams come true

On a single island.

*    *    *

Paddle between islands,

trace the peaceful coast

There is only the sound of a paddle

Tap-tap-tapping on the wooden hull,

Counting out loud, one by one,

down one side of the island.

One by one, the trees are counted,

One, two the leaves remembered,

Altogether, the bushes greeted

One-tow, friends safeguarded.

At the end of the island

Wanamba the east wind challenges.

And the struggle continues,

measuring the opposite shore,

he casts his line, stalking home

upon this blue horizon;

even the edge has an end.

Rounding Marirori the calm coast

To the lilt of the north wind Wanampui,

blowing its tune, breath of the mainland,

singing with the paddle’s tap on the hull.

Oily mirror on water’s face,

Counting corals, one by one,

Reading names, one, two.

In time the face is carved.

Gliding on Marirori’s calm sea

Carving a groove

In the mirror-like face

Sought by the sea-snake.

*     *     *

Beware of reflections in the water

Pray the seaweed is untangled

Where Wohe and Mori dwell,

Spirit guardians of the land and air

Mamboasar the seahorse

Is tempted by Mantemboni seaweed fruits.

The kambuwir spear stays still

Even Nuai is silent

The lion-fish puffs his chest

As the bird of paradise daydreams.

Flames burn

Them together

With their dreams.

*     *     *

The jellyfish blushes red,

His fingers spread wide

As he invites suitors

With a soft caress.

Rohai, the gravedigger shrimp and

Sera-mambiti the Gobyfish stand guard,

Caretakers of the sweet Manumggarum sewweed

Their hidden store of food.

*     *     *

Heading for Marirori

Reading the pool between the islands.

Perfect as a weel-cast net

Munua’s song goes round

as thousands of fish are caught at once;

count the catch so there’s none left over.

Sharing evenly

The same in the bow

Sharing half,

The same again in the tub

Even the stern is full.

*     *     *

Exact same shares divided,

To be enjoyed equally by all.

John Waromi

Translated from the Bahasa Indonesia by Sarita Newson
Kambuwir – a traditional harpoon weapon made of bamboo/steel