Photo credit: Christina Pataialii
and leave behind
pinch at the waist
and I’ve noticed
that pray like cracked tar rising.
No one came for me tonight
so I run to them
cigarette chopped between
even if it’s only in streetlight.
I can hear the ocean
in my mouth
as I walk to New(York-Lynn)
in the dark
swishing with va’a jaw
waiting on the rise.
Author’s note: The main road near my street is in a constant state of road works and I became interested in the rubble on a lot of the sidewalks. To me it sounded like walking on shells and in a way it became a sort of suburban sea. The word Va’a means canoe in Samoan and I feel like having a Va’a jaw is about movements between locating and dislocating yourself within your own sense of language as an almost reactionary element of physical location (in New Zealand and the wider world.)
Author’s Bio: Amber is a Samoan/Maori/Irish poet and aspiring novelist doing her final year of the Creative Writing degree at Manukau Institute of Technology. She has been published in the journals Ora Nui, Blackmailpress, ika, Hawaii Review and Landfall and will appear in the Maori poetry anthology Puna Wai Kōrero to be published later this year by Auckland University Press.
Paula’s note: Sound is what first hits you as you read this poem: the pitch, the chords, the beat. There is the way words shimmy together (‘crunch kiss’) and the way words shimmy apart (‘pinch’). A semicolon is carried over like a protagonist in the ambulatory beat — punctuation no longer invisible stitching. This poem brings every lucid detail to walking down the road yet walking down the road is not smooth sailing. I was reminded of Gertrude Stein as I read this and the way she breaks up language and puts it back together in ways that can be disconcerting, disconnecting, reconnecting, reasserting. This is that kind of walk. Amber’s line, ‘echo/ in canon’ resonates in my ear as echoing canon. There is the jarring step from New Lynn to New York. Similes lift and surprise (‘orange peels/ that pray like cracked tar rising’). This a walking poem that startles and cracks and never stops moving. I love it!