Editorial Statement

  1. The land ripens on Molokai. I saw it ripen once before my eyes, when we passed from the west to the east, along Route 460, the Maunaloa Highway. It ripened out of shrubland and thin, balding patches of kawelu; it gained a soft and greener luminosity as we drove, holding the shore east of Kaunakakai, rising to meet the surf, sick and high above heady cliffs; and it ripened like the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.
  2. Our first day on the island we bought two cram-full crates of papaya from a papaya farmer. We ate them plain, scooped out in the morning with a spoon, and we also ate them over salad, blending the flesh with oil and balsamic vinegar and sesame seeds, and we also drank the soft fruit down in milkshakes spiked with light rum. I would have sung for a guava, danced for a mango, killed for a passionfruit. I would be happy never to see a papaya again.
  3. What is the thing that you care most about in the world? Have you always cared, and will you always, and does it matter if you won’t?
  4. It was the end of March. Back in the real world there was a gun battle in Mogadishu, an oil spill in Nigeria, and a pet food crisis across North America. But for us there was only sunburn and two emptying crates of papaya, and everything else that is personal, and unsaid.
  5. Let’s write for ourselves, and think for ourselves, and love for ourselves (above all), not because it is simpler or more real, but because it is less purposeful. I know nothing of writing, or beauty, or love – except that I know them when I see them, and when I do see them they are unself-conscious and in flight.
  6. Our last day on the island the sun was hot and full of light. We were driving along the Maunaloa Highway, from the east until the west. Above, we saw the birds, circling. They were common birds, pigeons or doves, but they were so beautiful that we parked the car on the edge of the highway, and chased them across a coffee field, just so we were under them – just so they were directly overhead. They were red, yellow, pink, green, blue, white, purple, and orange (I can see them now in a photograph we snapped to remember that they were real). They took flight from a house with a rooster painted large and red below the eaves, and when they were done flying they returned to the same painted roof – but the in-between was magic. The sky was transformed into a seething flawless palette of color; sixty birds twisting and diving in tight concert, rising and descending, and holding together, slow-arcing, like a painter’s brushstroke, smooth and exacting. There was a wonderful moment when one yellow bird broke off from the flock, and then in an instant regained it, but for a moment she was all alone in the sky.
  7. We would learn later that they had been dyed, dunked in basins of food coloring and fed special vitamins and supplements. We would learn later that the birds could be leased, by the bird, and by the hour, for weddings or the occasional bar mitzvah. We would learn later that we had been seduced by a silent masquerade. But I remember thinking then, when the whole thing was clean and bright and purposeless, and the world was alive with the exquisite flutter of bird-wings, that this was something worth keeping. We were alight and sparkling with the ephemerality of the things we love, and I remember (best of all) someone turning to me, and saying, “I hope that I remember this.”

& the editors of Leland

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Filed under From the Editors, Vol 1 Issue 3

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