Afakasi

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Selina Tusitala Marsh

Half moons ago

people were hollowed-out tablets of stone

spaces were given them

according to spaces they left

some of these spaces were filled with pages

ink leaching out great deeds done

marginalia filled with greater ones

other spaces were filled with fe’e

sliding on story after story

older ones wrapped in thundering fagogo

younger ones rapping ill semantics

other spaces were filled with carved blocks of wood

cocooned in tissue-thin mulberry

these long hollow spaces echoed the beat

of years heavy with folded legs

and the thump thump of old women beating

some spaces were filled with darkness

no light would shine there

other spaces weren’t spaces at all

but blistering mirages

no wind would blow there

other spaces were filled with va

these were warmed with the breath of others

the thrum of matua tausi

even if she was just another mirage

other spaces were hard

suffocating stone eyes

calcifying

in other spaces hovered pouliuli

te kore, a nothingness, a yawning galaxy

into these spaces the young would dip their forefingers

rubbing the blackness on their lips

a moko mapping where they had been

and where they were to go

some spaces have pink retro bean-bags in the corner

cups of gumboot tea on the floor

upturned books in punched-out hollows

some spaces are filled

with the music of hands

fa’ataupati, not theatre applause

eyes open, mouths clapped shut

but open-mouthed choo-choo! malie!

some spaces are filled with no dancing

no flying fingers soaring wind

no shuffling of hips

no siva

no tau’olunga

no light in the body

some spaces are tied with rubber bands

trying to render control over

black unruly spaces

a parting and a plaiting of space

a twisting of space into a bun

some spaces are filled with sunlight soap

from the kagamea

laughing over rocks into the ocean

where a dead Alsatian floats under a net of flies

caught underneath the makeke pier

some spaces are brown

some are blue

o lo’u igoa Tusitala

je m’appelle Marchant

flow in and out

turning space sinopia

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