Rebecca weaves us through the Easter Island âtas. Our morning keris have survived into the new time zone. We arc along the ruga nui ridges and jetlag past pipihorekos. We climb he-pá-pá staircases to look upon the uriuri moais that stipple the topography below. Rebecca asks between deep hagus, “How do you think they moved the statues?” But we are twenty-two hundred miles from the nearest Hiva, and I’ve come he noho taaku mana’u how the kaiga ever came to be populated in the first place.
At its tui restaurant that night, the hotel hosts an umu parehaoga (ivi heheu, tapioca), where a local author vanavanagas about the kaiga’s history. Few civilizations are as hokotahi as Easter Island, she says. Its earliest mata he-pehiva from the maara of South America with kumara seeds and a vánaga heavily weighted of compound vowels. “With the catamarans they likely had, the trip could have been accomplished in nineteen days,” the hônui explains. But how many times did their vakas have to criss-cross the ocean until the kaiga appeared before them, a rano of au moa in the tai’s infinite rari? Running lets us meditate on these sorts of mana’u ruga nui. An hakari in motion helps the mind gain speed, and Rebecca, always the pacesetter, tahutis the quickest.
Transporting the moai, eighty-ton statues he-raraku from the kaiga’s quarry, involved pulleys, taki, sleds, and leveled tracks. “Ka hivo ê, tatou, ka haro,” the Rapa Nui would have he-kî. But then there’s a rua aamu for the sentimental among us, the story of a vî’e living alone atop the kaiga’s highest mauga, who commanded the moai to walk to their final locations. She ordered a taû’a of stone monoliths to spread out across the maara, she swore them to protect the kaiga and its mata, and they’ve remained at their kona horeko ever since.
After rima or ono miles on the run, your va’es stop hurting. Your chest forgets to veravera. The hotel’s façade ará-arás in the distance. You will bend on knee when you return to your kona hare. You will ask the nuinui question.
Michael Sarinsky is a graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program and an Associate Editor at Conjunctions, with work appearing or forthcoming in Passages North, Redivider, and SmokeLong Quarterly.
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