These poems were selected from a suite of poems Mitiana Arbon wrote after a trip to Samoa in early 2012. The poems draw on Samoan culture and ideas from time spent with his mother’s family in the village of Tafua Tai on the island of Savai’i. Sione Monu’s illustrations were inspired by and created for these poems.
Hark, hark, the cooing of the pigeons
Brings the cool down on their wings
As the bats return to their cavernous sleep;
The bells toll for the whisperings of lotu ole taeao,
With the children beginning their walk
Around the penumbra of the mountain.
They wait for the sun to bring its first beams Of colour into their lives,
Ua sanisani fa’amanuaso
(Singing like the birds dawn chorus)
Arise islands! The morning breeze is stirring,
Ready to bring you out and beyond
The confines of past shadows
Into the warmth of the day
Fruit of the Anatomy
I always knew
Fruit had that way of
…Jogging the memory?
But it wasn’t till one day,
My mother wisely pointed
“Don’t breadfruit look like breasts?”
The world was perceived anew.
I saw them as she did
On sagging branches,
Plump, and half covered by leaves,
For modesty of course,
On display as a numerous peepshow
For giggling children
I wonder what they perceived
Beware the Aitu who dance
On ancient blood stained ground,
Or slide as eels through jungles,
Or rise out of the ground
As pale butterflies.
Beware of the demon fish
That inhabit the depths
Of still dark pools
Beware the demon women
Of beauty that haunts dreams
With turtle songs
And worship the sharks
Beware the Aitu
Who drum the night
(1) Aitu; evil spirits, demons which are, despite the predominance of Christianity, still prevalent in island superstition
About the illustrator:
Sione Monu is a first year visual arts student at the ANU School of Art, majoring in Painting. Sione is of Tongan decent and is a mentor with Pasifika Australia. In his spare time, he likes to bake cakes that he eats while watching fail clips on youtube.