Take these recycled prayers
Take them in your trembling hands, and push them back into the temple of your mouth
Grind these brittle verses against your teeth, and feel their sharp claws press against your sacred tongue
These are not for us; these prayers are not tethered to this place
Its clawed fist shifts in cyclonic turmoil that never finds the shape of sleep
Spit it out in the sands, and let the ceaseless tides take it into the blue
Drag it across knifed coral edge, stretched wide between waves
Send it back to shore with melodies sung in a wordless new song
Take off those uniforms
Unshirt your coated frame
Unlace those boots, unhook your medallions and place your awards and steel books at the teeth of the river
Bring yourself here
Your brown as true as your mothers’ promise and your stride proud as your fathers’ backs that bent the winds
The same hands planted the first seeds
The same bodies that journeyed a thousand pathways across liquid landscapes and earth pregnant with the promise of harvests
Of sons and daughters
Fluent in the language of the birds and the trees
With the ocean in us, waves crashing against our bellies
Our blood inked with stories of us and in us
And our gods etched on our fingernails and in the kiss of our smiles
Bring yourself here
an excerpt of the poem ‘The Sleeping Ancestors’, from a three-part anthology I wrote for my dad after his passing some years ago.
These are stories of community, power, culture, healing and, centrally, about resistance. These stories though they may come from diverse and different places across the world are rooted in the place we here in the Pacific islands know and are fighting for and against. Fighting to find ourselves again, to remember.
Amidst the new world language of universal digital uniformity and the old but present colonial narratives that shape the frames we live in, these stories tell of a kind of soft resistance, wars won in small fights. They are about memory and power, the kinds of resistance buried in our tongues and sitting waiting to be born as sentences in our hands.
Working as an editor on this edition makes one wonder how does one edit poetry if poetry is a kind of emotional language? How do you edit text that might be translated from a first language? I must work in the deep story frame of each of these different texts; I must find the vein that they’re communicating and work to elevate work; in the end my work here was really around structure, ensuring I added value to the work presented.
Such a pleasure; these poems and stories are still with me and may live in my head for a time …
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