Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Word pictures about place and food

Here is some nostalgia about place and food, many about Fiji. When you just pick up a golden cowrie shell, place it over an ear, you hear the tropical sea and can visualize memories of different scenes in your life.

Poems about place and food
At Nukutatava beside the shining sea
pearly oysters cling to the legs of mangroves.
We cut them off clean with old knives,
my sister-in-law, Evia and me.
They are moist, succulent for the midday meal
with lemons plucked from a nearby tree.
Near Nubunikavula village, - named moonlight,
Young men slash at the hillsides with cane-knives.
Women prepare black river mussels
with coconut cream, served in curved shells.
An old song-leader sings a hauling chant
with a rude metaphor, the men smile.
Nukualofa, the main town in Tonga
has tabu days when work is banned
but neighbours call with baked yams,
even a whole glazed piglet.
We feast then lie on pandanus mats.
Even the coat of many colours rooster rests.
In Davuilevu compound on a Sunday
the resident nurse invites me to a lunch
of creamy yams with squares of jellied seaweed.
This visitor baulks at the strong taste,
decides never again to eat that green stuff
yet years later I can eat it with delight.
Lautoka, is a city of sugar and spice.
The bride’s hands are decorated with turmeric.
and gold gleams from her throat and nose.
The couple circle the fire, the man leading
as the pandit drones in a monotone from the classics.
We wait, impatient for the spicy meal to follow.
Nukulau the transformed island
has become a prison for coup-makers,
heroes to some, devils to others.
The visiting pastor listens intently
to stories of grief and excuses.
They eat hunks of bread with warm tea
In a Geelong backyard the ground is hollowed,
smoke drifts towards the neighbours
but the Council has given approval
for the hangi, a lovo, a pit of many names.
After grey volcanic stones heat up,
wrapped dalo and pork is steamed
under gum leaves and a mound of earth:
A Fijian feast for a serious ceremony
In the flat Mallee lands of Hopetoun
abstinence was his Methodist rule
from the strict norm of his culture
but his new colleague opens up a wine bottle,
offers a new astringent taste.
Frowning he looks back over his shoulder.
Next to the former Pentridge Prison in Coburg
after worship in the heritage stone building
men cobo clap as they drink the kava
Women unwrap bland cakes and coconut pies
to accompany mugs of sweet milky tea
then lie on cream pandanus mats
like petals of flowers, to gossip.
At Queenscliff we park near old ragged pines,
waves glitter near the Rip,
the ferry a toy on the lip of the sea.
He chooses a fish to fry in the Trident shop,
then we straddle rough-cut table legs,
grateful for sun, salt and seafood.

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