Faith Wilson
New Zealand

Home Economics

I know the taste of money
for my tongue is made of silver.

You come from a line of alchemists
who knew the recipe for turning
copra into goldmarks was just a
pinch of megalomania
a hundred bibles, the heart
of an entire culture
and a can-do attitude.

You speak in dollars and cents
removed from agrarian sensibilities
you are the product of industry
and innovation, profit and loss.

We are an alloy of coloniser
and colonised. Bastard afakasi,
teine who bit off their brown
tongues at birth to grow back
gold plated ones.

You are the daughter of merchants and slave traders.
You are the watered-down.
We are the daughters of the dirt.

But our ancestors are gods.

I am the daughter of resistance.
I am the daughter of eels and bloodclots.
I am the daughter of the sky.

Your language falls off my tongue
like coconuts from a tree.

And I know you want my insides
the coconut split: milky. Creamy.

So go on, open my mouth:
let the pennies drop.

NB: I would like to thank Witi Ihimaera, Tina Makereti and Hinemoana Baker (and their creative writing class at Victoria) for helping me workshop this poem – fa’afetai tele lava, particularly the changing between first and second person. The idea is that you can read it just as one person, or as a kind of group poem. Play around with it and let the meanings muddle.

Bah Humbuck

Sweating in a colony
in the sun

sit Nana’s humbucks:
see through plastic Glad Bag
into red & tan

Humbucks she calls them.

FOB speak; lingua franca
Humble sweet; Scrooge was a wanker

We drive in her car with
too much dangly shit hanging
from the rearview mirror –
they chatter when we turn corners.

Dashboard Jesus –
prays for us.
He’s stuck down with old
peppermint Freedent.

(I have all the God I need in this car)

I never know where we’re going
I ignore how fast we’re going
I just trust her hair
a silver (grey) aura
in this South Waikato sun.

I suck & suck & suck
my humbuck
til the sharp bits cut
my tongue:
red & tan.

And then I crunch it.

Nana can only suck
let it roll around her
flabby inner cheeks

Minty fresh; lolling tongue
Sweet & false; teeth and gum

We turn up

They speak for us.
I don’t care when eyes
from other cars glare
when we stop at the red light,
wondering why a young afakasi
and a silver Boonga lady
are blasting music
played by old white dudes.

I just stare back, picking
flotsam & jetsam
sugar & corn syrup
the humbucks left in my teeth.

(I have all the holy I need in this car)

We hoon
… … 140
says she can’t feel the speed
creeping up on her.

It doesn’t matter anyway -
(Saint Christopher, pray for us)

I rip off my seatbelt and
throw my head out the window,
screaming the lyrics
until my voice is as loud
as the wind.

Nana holds my hand,
crosses herself with her right
when we pass the church
so for a few seconds
only God is steering.

We’re almost there I think,
so I distract Nana, hoping she’ll drive
past and forget.

I want this ride to go on forever.
And ever.

Biography Faith Wilson
Faith Wilson was born in Tokoroa, raised in Kirikiriroa and is now based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She is afakasi Samoan and Palagi, and grew up in a very white New Zealand. Only in her later years has she felt a strong connection to her Samoan side, something which she constantly explores in her writing. She completed a MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters in 2014, and has poems published in Sport, Turbine, Ika and Mayhem. She is also participates in performance works with her mother that explore notions of intergenerational identity.

The Island - Rosie Whinray - 2015