Saturday, December 14, 2013

A poem about Ofa-Atu

from w

Sepia photo

I watch the boy sitting with his grandfather,
both at ease on the pandanus mat,
the boy with familiar eyes, black pebbles.
A question, who is in the photo?
The bent man seems reflective.  Her name is Ofaatu
The portrait was made by a vavalagi visiting our village,
Wrapped her in barkcloth,  sandalwood  dust in her hair.
Undressed for the photo, a breast  revealed,
not a missionary cover-up.
The vavalagi wants to dream,  we are exotic natives.
But who is she, insists the boy. Is she related to our clan?
The lined hands stretch out. Yes, your great grandmother.
The  boy discerns a tremble in the air, looks at the sinnet plaiting
as he leans against the kingpost, shrugs and settles into ease.
I drift away, unseen, to reside once more
in the upper arms of the banyan.

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