The Other Side of Now

Ruby Solly

See yourself
marrying the most gentle boy in the village.
Hanging his clothes on a line
by the bend in the river’s back.
Watching his lamp light
weave back through wetlands
with a pot full of eels for you 

and what’s his to come.
            An Ancestor swelling
            under a Muslin dress
            bare feet still able
                       to run through the roots.

His mother’s hands wrapped gentle
around a warm mug swirling.
All of you there singing 

in the kitchen while night 

continues to fall
           and fall and fall
                      until the birds sing you back in.

Swimming tired and full in 

the soft currents
           a river of you both bursting through
                      Wai kura swirling in tendrils
                      as he comes running
                      when your Karanga bursts through
                      between worlds turning.
                      His mother singing the world into her;
                      fresh lungs blooming with our breath.

Watching her run now
swift between the roots
she has been doing this for a thousand years.

The hunt now lit by two lamps
           Puanga lighting ahead
           to show you the children are coming
           as they number more each year
                      until you have a whole constellation.

A clutch of eggs,
held gentle in an apron.
Little girl turning them gently
                     checking for feathers.

Watching her collect them herself now.
Hands soft and golden, fresh dirt under the nails.
          Rouge lightly patted to the lips,
          bare feet in the river,
                     a boy scarecrow suited
                     lilting to the door.

The house an empty shell
                                           broken open. 

                      Fragments  scattered
                      like broken plates nestled in the earth.
                      The gentlest boy in the village
                      now rests
                      as the gentlest Tūpuna
                      for your children who bring him back
          with each new baby
called into the world.

                                Sitting now,
                                one foot in the river
                                one on the other side
                                turning his hei tiki over and over
                                in the parchment of your palm.
                                And maybe this is the best thing you have done.
                                And maybe letting this stone gain your warmth
                                degree by degree
                                is the gentlest thing that you can offer him.
                                Maybe your hand turning a taonga
                                is how you turn the world.

© 2019 by Tupuranga

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