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The Cook of Hatiheu

Koute was mistress

                                                              to hard peaks

prattling slopes       skulls     exalted bones.

Basalt cuspids bit hard an obsidian sea.

But the whole valley ate from her hand.

On Sundays

                               roaring waves   appeased

by the church chime

slumbered emeraldine

along a dream-fracking beach.

Bare-foot valley rife with souls

was all shudder and shimmer.

Here    Koute          mother

to the Humboldt current

lifted sea-hounds on the hunt

of wahoo and skipjack.

Night’s thalassic embrace

fertilized air and soil.

Under its cosmic ardor she cooked

                                              the way others write music

between roof and stars           an open hearth

licking the flames from her eyes

as she fed the valley rainbow and cirrus foods.

Chevrettes flour-rolled into asteroids.

Breadfruit manna

                                               sea-salt sanded.

Pink florets of frigate tuna

                                         coated in lime and milk.

Night’s sagoma was close enough to feel

so Koute served us distance too

                                                  tiare buds of space

celestial jellies      supersonic eels

The rule of the dark was prodigy.

Tirelessly young

                    we sat up till dawn’s collation.

Her clansmen emerged then

                                              from  translucence

                               leaving their bracken fragrance

and mangos at my door.

Stephanie V Sears is a French and American ethnologist (Doctorate EHESS, Paris 1993), free-lance journalist, essayist and poet whose poetry recently appeared in The Deronda Review, The Comstock Review, The Mystic Blue Review, The Big Windows Review, Indefinite Space, The Plum Tree Tavern, Literary Yard, Clementine Unbound, Anti Heroine Chic, DASH, The Dawn Treader, Dodging the Rain, Amethyst Review, The Non-Conformist Magazine, SORTES, New Reader, New Contrast, Short-listed in 2009 for a Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poetry: ‘The Strange Travels of Svinhilde Wilson’ was published by Adelaide Book in 2020. Red Ogre anthology 2022.

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