No’u Revilla

Rope / Tongue


Grandma was a lizard at our age. She walked first, the story goes. And learned to climb. Up the stiff metal pole. Up and over the hanging head. Up until she was up and it was down.

The lamp post I thought
was a cervix to the sky,
but no, not female. It belonged
to the pier. And thus us.
We pissed everywhere.
                    on the bridge
                    on the concrete floor
                    on the steps running down to the tires
                    in the ocean where we waited for others to jump.
Young, territorial.
Everywhere pissing.
There was rope that hung
from one end of the pier to the other,
rope that hung like a tongue—
the kind of tongue we wished to have in our little girl mouths:
thick, twisted, tasting
salt in broad daylight:
Big Girl tongue.
In the water we mounted it, squeezed
it between our legs,
like she said “slyly reproductive.”

Grandma jumped into the ocean with her legs spread, landed, and the water turned to foam. The rope was dry for thirteen days. One for every child that swam out of her.

We dreamed of sex in tents on cliffs in the morning out of wedlock,
                    of making eyes biting lips saying “I want” “I will” “I do”
                    and meaning the fuck out of it.
The fuck of it formed like vowels between our legs—
not like other girls and their ABCs—we knew rope like A E I O U.

One child from her forehead. One from her tongue. Another rolled out from her sweet jump spot. After another after another after another from her mo‘o toes. They climbed. Like her. Grandma. Lizard. At our age.



Copyright © No’u Revilla

No'u RevillaNoʻu Revilla is a poet and performer of Hawaiian and Tahitian descent, currently finishing her Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa. Her chapbook Say Throne was published by Tinfish Press in 2011. She served as Poetry Editor of Hawaiʻi Review (2013-2015) and organized the first Aloha ʻĀina Zine Workshop in solidarity with the protectors of Mauna Kea in July 2015.

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Curator’s Notes: In this scintillating coming of age tribute, in this memorial to a matriarch from mo’o lineage, Noʻu Revilla mesmerizes want with “Rope /Tongue,” lingual glory, all the while bringing us to feed the feminine ethological home. A stunningly adept poem—