Kateruri

Kateruri
poem by george anderson, photo by kate marie
1
on the staircase wall is a framed black and
white photograph of your great grandmother
she is wrapped in a hand woven blanket
clutching a long clay pipe with worn hands-
she stares intensely at the photographer,
the traditional moko marked on her chin
2
before sleep time I read you again your
favourite Maori legend ‘Rata & the Totara Tree’
& as on cue you laugh again-
at the part where Rata returns to the forest
to the giant totara he has chopped down the day before-
only to find it standing tall & whole again
3
one day you will learn
your blond haired mother from Opotiki
once viewed herself as a pakeha,
as an descendent of an Irish infantryman of the Imperial Army
from the New Zealand Wars-
until one astonishing evening
her Maori Art teacher revealed to her she was his cousin
4
your kuia bounces up & down in the next room
on a mini trampoline
watching mid-day soaps, weight loss ads, preparing for golf
teasing her daughter that
the All-Blacks will flog Australia
5
like the totara tree
you return to us like an unexplained gift
we sing on the wide lawn of the wharenui
the words, the sweet cadences of your ancestors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *