blackmail press 40
Karlo Mila
first published issue 35

The fecund people - Andy Leleisi'uao 2014
After Reading Ancestry

for Albert Wendt

Page by page,
I wandered the streets of Ponsonby
found my dreaming, padding feet
in the lush green grass of Manoa, Hawaii,
the sand under surveillance at Long Bay
at the table of Palangi breakfasts in Samoa
circling the unfamiliar umu pit,
finding foreign words, coaxing them
into familiar, into family.
But all roads lead to Ponsonby
where restored villas ascend,
skylighted, into lagituaiva,
and the leaves still speak
the gentle green tongued talk
of tended gardens,
and you, Albert,
character among your characters
appear, a dreaming woman
at your side, both of you, flourishing,
the soil of stories in your hands
here, where we are all permanent guests
of the landscapes you have created.
Here, where all the nuances of red
bloom, where even the caramel generation grow,
practiced schizophrenics, surviving
the small humiliations of raw peripheries
that you traversed before us,
charting that territory with black star
after black star, so that we could find
another way of mapping
the despair of the light, the search
for the green dawn.
Once you’ve imagined it possible
to gafa back to Atua,
the story can never be the same again.
And you kneel together
in that fertile soil
where the lifeblood of stories begins,
planting the strangers of our sleeping lives
where past and present collide in one single kernel
and living things unfold beyond the boundaries
of dream, taking their own shape,
orbiting out into the world,
a garden of people, pukeko, aloe vera, eels,
light, lettuce, mokopuna, named fine mats,
feijoas, family gods, fungus and freedom trees.
Death comes
and still your garden grows,
owls circling softly overhead.
Your green fingered pen
still bringing life, to life.