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About this Poem 

“This poem is an excerpt from a weekly series of poems I wrote during my wife’s pregnancy. The title, ‘understory,’ refers to plants and young trees that grow beneath the main canopy of a jungle or forest.”

—Craig Santos Perez

understory (week 35)

“she’s kicking”
nālani says 
 
holds my
hands against
 
her belly 
so warm! 
 
chicken broth
boils in
 
the crockpot
bones turn
 
in briny 
liquid—baby
 
kicks again
can she
 
feel my
body heat? 
 
magma rises
water into
 
steam—Kīlauea 
drill, turbine
 
Mauna Loa
grid, undersea
 
cables—is
geothermal safe? 
 
baby’s so 
active tonight 
 
nālani presses
my palms
 
deeper into
this skin
 
drum e
Pele e

Copyright @ 2014 by Craig Santos Perez. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 22, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Craig Santos Perez. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 22, 2014.

Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez, a native Chamorro from Mongmong, Guam, writes about themes such as Pacific life, immigration, ancestry, colonialism, and diaspora.

by this poet

poem
Thank you, instant mashed potatoes, your bland taste 
makes me feel like an average American. Thank you, 
 
incarcerated Americans, for filling the labor shortage 
and packing potatoes in Idaho. Thank you, canned 
 
cranberry sauce, for your gelatinous
poem

in collaboration with my wife, Brandy Nālani McDougall
and our one-year old daughter, Kaikainaliʻi

kaikainaliʻi wakes from her late afternoon nap
and reaches for nālani with small open hands—

count how many papuan children
still reach for their

poem

My 16-month old daughter wakes from her nap
and cries. I pick her up, press her against my chest

and rub her back until my palm warms
like an old family quilt. “Daddy’s here, daddy’s here,”

I whisper. Here is the island of Oʻahu, 8,500 miles
from Syria. But what if Pacific trade winds

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