The Legend of Kapo
May 1, 1850
Dearest Sister Annie,
I am writing to you from Kona Hawaii on my third week as governess to her Highness Emma Rooke, whom most people call Emmalani... I have never seen Emmalani run, at least not on land. She skims from her beach chair to the ocean water, slides in, and then she is simply grace incarnate. Clean even strokes, and at last in the waves, without hesitation she covers miles swiftly and surely. As governess, I remain on the beach, where the thought the idea of me rescuing my ward is laughable at best. I leave heavy footprints, each toe discernable in the concave shallows, but in spite of walking right behind her, I see no trace of Emmalani’s passing. To my thinking, the Mermaids are a Western invention akin to Centaurs of Greek myth. Lost fishermen and missing sailors gave rise to half human creatures and sea goddesses. Here in Hawaii, each family honors simpatico creatures, their aumakua. These beings are not half human, half animal, stuck in between species. They know they can transform. I myself have witnessed the elders standing in the waves close to shore and CALLING to their aumakua, chanting in their musical way, raising their arms, an outstretched welcome, and Annie, I tell you, the sharks COME...
These Hawaiians are great athletes, though their sports would terrify our polo players. Years ago, a great slide or Lua was built down the slopes of Mauna Loa (the Long Mountain) all the way to sea. Daring boys and girls lay down upon heavy boards and rode many kilometers, picking up speed and once in the ocean, they take to riding the waves. Honestly, Annie, mermaids are a pale and fragile myth compared to these ocean loving natives...
On the island of Hawai’i, there is an active volcano which one can visit and see molten lava up close. It is like seeing God at his most awe inspiring to witness the creation of new land, Annie, reminiscent of those days when we saw God in the clouds as we laid on the grass in our favorite meadow...
At the Talk Story, I learned that their goddess Pele had sisters, one of whom was called Kapo. This goddess
had a most unusual talent. I am struggling to convey what I heard at that meeting in Waipio for it involves a woman’s’ private parts. I shall forge ahead and relay that in this story, Kapo’s lady parts were, shall we say, detachable. There are wild boars in the island, another animal that transforms between human and beast. They call this the Pig God. This Pig god is possessed of an insatiable lust, and Kapo, tiring of the constant pursuit, and declaring “is this what you want?”, detaches her lady part, throws it up into a tree, goes about her visits and errands, only to retrieve it later when the Pig God has finished his business. I know you must be blushing fiercely, and I tell you Annie, it was all I could do to keep from covering my ears....
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If Catherine’s writings were expressed in one color, it would be yellow, bright as sunlight, highlighting the salient portions, deconstructing air brushed stories, and finding humor and courage in the unloved corners.