"Piapiatele” (Moana O Sina), Fogagogo

"Piapiatele” (Moana O Sina), Fogagogo

For many years it was the only house out there, a house of elegant exile. The road to it was little more than a tract cut through the jungle over black lava ribs and down red mud hollows. The poles along the road carried power and phone lines just to that house. The house crouched on a black and barren cliff above the reefless sea that even in calm weather could dispatch rogue breakers into the cliff face with strength enough to raise a plume of spray ten meters high above it. In storms the mist was so thick that the house seemed submerged in an aerated sea.

But it was a strong house, built to be in just that place. Its sturdy rolled eaves suggested a wrestler's slouched shoulders, always on the defensive. It hugged the contour of the land it held. No one else had ever thought to build there, at the margin of two inhospitalities--the choked jungle on a landscape of fractured volcanism behind and the kinetic and potential violence of the world's largest ocean knocking at the front door. The jungle's verge was guarded by thickets of sword-edged pandanus. The sea's sole amenity here was its vista.

Apelu had been inside the house only once, maybe ten years before, to a lavish party on a sea-peaceful starry night. The hosts had hired a van to take their guests over the road in and out so that no one had to endanger their vehicles. Besides, there was nowhere to park there. The party had been for some visiting entertainers. He remembered a large, lantern-lit patio overlooking the star-lit black and white coastline--the black ever stationary, the white always in motion. It had been a good party. Servants kept glasses full. There was too much to eat. The entertainers entertained. He had been glad for the ride back out. He couldn't have driven it.

(Fire Knife Dancing, p. 1)

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Monday, September 15, 2014 - 9:02am

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