blackmail press 40
Serie Barford
first published issue 31

The fecund people - Andy Leleisi'uao 2014
Serie Barford is of Samoan-European-Algonquin Indian descent. She's the recipient of the 2011 Seresin Landfall Residency and is writing a short story collection based on the concept of "teu le va" - taking care of relationships within and between the visible and invisible worlds.

Sagasaga  (Job’s Tears)

the fruit of sagasaga are shaped like tear drops
they are natural beads whose soft insides
are easily pierced and strung into rosaries

Don’t cry.  Be a good girl.  Stay away from the boys.
Obey your parents.  Go to church.  Sweep the leaves. 
Use a white cup and saucer for the milo for your uncle.

migrants leave a bit of themselves behind
pack something of themselves into a suitcase

they’re as strong as eggshells crowded with ghosts
as vulnerable as flipped turtles under the sun

we’re born into a world balancing on ancient stones
who are restless, prone to shifting and splintering

and some of us are falling through the cracks
or plummeting all at once

we’re lost in streets and games and spaces
where logos, dollar signs, tats and tags
are the glyphs of storytellers and loan sharks

so I’ll shake gourds netted with hundreds of sagasaga
to amplify our sorrow for whoever’s listening
while we huddle around what  comfort we find
our tears raining like Job’s

Poem Notes:
It's based on the Samoan Sagasaga plant which is also called Job's Tears. It's about people who come to Aotearoa for a better life but lose parts of themselves when they leave home and then things don't always work out in the land of dreams and promises and they become even 'emptier'. They lose relationship with traditional narratives and listen instead to the voices of streets, game arcades, tats and those who try to fleece them.
In the very old days sasasaga beads were shaken as part of the ritual of communicating with the gods. Now they're mainly used in rosaries and jewellery. The alternative name for this plant, "Job's Tears", communicates the trials our people face.