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Aroha – Nukutawhiti

[Previously published in Landfall 227)

 

Haere mai, Aroha

Is that your true name? 

It ripples like spirits over my tongue and onto 

 

my shores: 

where I will gift you one hundred kina 

every day, even though the limit is fifty, 

where I will scrub your soles with pumice 

and soak them in salt after your morning runs

I will pout when you tap-tap-tap your toes 

and jiggle my hinu, yet chase you breathlessly across 

 

my shores: 

where driftwood shrines 

will whistle your name at every bend 

and assemble your likeness for pilgrims 

where I will carve you into 

the shell of my heel so that you too may feel 

the granules of memory that scrunch underfoot 

blend with whanaunga 

and tremble within your womb 

 

Aroha! 

That must be your name! 

It devours me like Tangaroa 

as I welcome you to my shores.