(from a photo by Sandra Okada)
Joseph watched the stars wheel overhead, slowly, slowly. He turned and watched Puala’s son, Lana, at the helm. He too was an ordained navigator—a pwo. He understood the song of the stars and how to follow their hidden paths and now Joseph and Napu found themselves looking up and studying the stars when he looked up and they looked at the sea when he studied the sea. They knew that Lana held the key to unfathomable secrets.
Puala’s words still burned in Joseph’s ears: You are beginning to understand. Now, though, he understood what the old man had meant. Out here on the dark ocean, setting out on a desperate voyage in a small and fragile canoe, Joseph felt overwhelmed not only by the immensity of night sky and the vast water that surrounded them, but by the unimaginable dangers they would face. When he could sit as quietly and calmly and steer a canoe through a treacherous unknown as Lana was now doing, then he, too, would understand.