Twinkle, Twinkle, Morning Star

by Craig Santos Perez

in collaboration with my wife, Brandy N?lani McDougall
and our one-year old daughter, Kaikainali?i

kaikainali?i wakes from her late afternoon nap
and reaches for n?lani with small open hands—

count how many papuan children
still reach for their disappeared parents—

using my iphone, i change my facebook profile picture
to a graphic of the morning star flag and share
an article about the grasberg mine— gaping open pit

count how many papuan children
are dying from copper poisoning each year—

kaikainali?i watches cartoons on our flat screen tv
while n?lani and i watch an online documentary
about west papua #forgottenbirdofparadise

count how many papuan children have watched
their loved ones mounted and shot—

after we turn off the tv and close the laptop—
n?lani reads to kaikainali'i a bedtime story:

"Twinkle, twinkle, small h?k? / Shining down on our canoe
Up above the sea so high, / Like a candle in the sky"

count how many papuan children have been extracted
to islamic boarding schools in jakarta—

"When the ocean waves are black, / When we feel like turning back,
H?k? shines its little light, / Guiding us all through the night."

count how many papuan children are seeking refuge
across borders only to become forgotten refugees—

"Waves may fall or rise up high, / keep your eyes upon the sky,
H?k? peeks out in between, / Shining out its steady beam."

count how many hashtags it will take to trend
bleeding black island bodies strip-mined by bullets
crushed into slurry by military boots pumped
through pipelines across poisoned rivers and treeless
lands, shipped overseas and enslaved by our technology—

papuan cousins, imagine someday
we can talk story, chew betelnut, and color
the soil with our spit as our children paint
their faces red and play #papuamerdeka

"Thunderclouds may push and shove. / Rain may pour from up above.
Never fear, our star is strong, / Burning bright the whole night long."

Last updated March 22, 2023