The Edge of the Earth (1998)
by Ken Allen
Laie on windward Oahu. Verdant volcanic pali gorges gouged as by a giant's slashing fingers thrust upward to grasp at angry clouds pushed from the sea by insistent tradewinds. A strip of fertile lowland fields, an alphabet of crops: banana, breadfruit, coconut, corn, dates, guava, mango, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, pomelo and sugar cane plus ponds of prawns. Bantams peck at ironwood windbreaks crowding a single thin road lined with bungalows and mansions.
At Temple Beach a fringe of golden sand arches around a palm framed cove. Tufts of greenery spring from Goat Island, a tiny black lava plate floating off the distant spit. At the near point a jetty of like-layered lava cuts forever across the beachhead where condos climb cliffs. The two broad bands of Hale Laa Road extend westward a mere mile from the open beach to a formal garden. There an alabaster sanctury, the House of the Lord, crowns a hillside facing the sunrise at the framed horizon. Opposite at the jetty, washed-up sand blocks the mouth of a freshwater stream into a quiet pond where white egrets wade, rare gray geese glide and sandpipers preen.
Roiling waves break into crashing surf at the reef ridge of the horizon driven by undulating wind. A catamaran rocks leeward on its buoy above where colorful flitting fish among the coral jaw at olive green kelp. Sand crabs toss wet sand from foxholes between children's castles, then scamper from sight into the smooth wet sand. Bronzed surfers launch board or body ahead of each wall of the largest waves before they break across the long shallow bottom, transforming azure clarity into turgid tan tossing coral, flotsam and seaweed over the edge of the foam.
Misty showers kiss palms and sunbathers' bare backs for moments every few hours, bringing a cooling respite in the oppressive damp air and shade from the searing sun. Intense reds, yellows, greens and purples of rugged blooms compete with a rainbow. The undulating whoosh of soft surf and rattling cadence of drops on fronds penetrate thc sigh of the tradewinds.
In the evening darkness, light from beach fires flicker against the canopy of cloud and coconut palm while floating phosphorescence pulsates purple in the sand. From a grassy green of a beachside cottage at mere neck height above the tide, both sunrise and sunset kiss the same vast horizon.
Here the edge of the earth touches heaven.
August 18, 1998
(c) 1999 KRA