Coming from a big Samoan family, with our matriarch, my grandmother Rita, having passed away some time ago, I am no stranger to people gushing over their mothers. My grandma had always just baked something amazing, said something hilarious, intercepted some petty tiff, saving our small worlds often – she was the authority on all things human. I remember the dulling of colours, how her passing changed the light of the sky itself, it took a long time for detail and richness to return to the world. In many ways, it made me love my mother even harder, seeing the often grief on her face, and remembering the magic of life, how in both mum and myself – Rita lived on.
My love for both of these women has come full circle, I have learned to praise my body for the simplest of shifts, how my eyelashes keep out dust, my reflexes, catching things, seeing things, standing when others are falling. I have learned to love my body as a gift, something handed down, like a fine piece of siapo given to me in the middle of a thought. I have started to believe the same thing of my poetry. The spectrum of voices howling in my heart, are owed in part to a catchment of knowledge, experience and life before me. Approaching my art as a tapestry of history and struggle has in effect, given me a level of belief beyond confidence that I can attribute to my angels and ancestors. People have spoken like this for generations, I am a new voice within an old discussion.
My mother Kim arrived in Berlin from Auckland the Saturday just gone, I was pleased to have found the correct gate at Berlin Tegel after angsting over the German signage, and my inclination toward neurosis when especially excited. I had planned to cry at the airport, after not seeing mum for a month, but a pair of sisters beat me to it at the arrivals gate, they looked so warped and out of place, I had little difficulty stopping myself.
When I saw mum, I was too elated to cry. On Trueblood, vampires speak of those that made them as their ‘maker’ it felt that way holding her, standing with the original, the blueprint my body was scaled against. Perhaps the business of life has become so loud and demanding, I’ve missed a million of these moments back home. People say absence makes the heart grow fonder, it’s a flawed statement, eroding the possibility of absence as opportunity for greater knowledge. I don’t think my heart has grown fonder towards mum, to think she has traveled so far to see some of my dreams come true, has not cultured a fondness – but the kind of respect you hope to have accrued at the end of life for at least one other being. You hope to have seen the bounds of humanity, summed within one act of kindness. There is no doubt that as I write this, with my mother here with me at the Bleibtreu, as our planets begin a new orbit, this is her true act of love.
Berlin has given me a portal into greater self awareness, this far from my life, I feel as though everything before me is under some giant microscope – I keep writing mental post it notes. Things to remember, things to forget. Admittedly, I’ve achieved everything I set out to by 25, sacrifices in my late teens and early 20s, have thankfully paid off. My foremost goal was simple, to apply myself and honour my family. Looking at that sentence on the page, it seems global and sensitive, it seems a bit self effacing and quite naive, it looks like something a girl would say before she marries a stranger. Really, the thought of Rita, the loss of my world (she was the globe in my eyes) set me out into life with more than myself in my heart, I wanted to keep her beating in mine. This is the spring from where I draw my art. The art is endless, having discovered so young, my ability to love someone that I cannot see or hold, art is exactly that.
When we are still, and the business of life gives way even for a moment, there’s so much beauty around us, it’s a wonder we have time to hurt.