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Grace Taylor
New Zealand

Grace Taylor, is of Samoan and Palagi descent. Grace recently won the Poetry Slam for the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival 2008.
She is currently on her big OE and enjoying the European summer.
Intertwined : Being Afa Kasi

English roses
snow blooded lines
Samoan tattoo
coco blooded lines
created by the love of two
under the One
makes me.

This white skin
nurtured in a brown community
struggling to find unity
within me.

Bouncing from one skin to the next
putting my culture on to fit in with the rest
fighting to not be the miniority
in a vain attempt to have them accept me.

Even within my own family
spoken from the mouths of my own blood
saying it as a joke?
saying it with love?
Don’t be so nieve to think
I don’t know it’s about me you speak.

“Uummm teine palangi”
sideways looks and laughing light
exempt from feaus
making me feel whiter then white.
“I hear her mum is Sar – mo – win?”
has darker skin?
Damn, now I be shocking.

“Who Grace? She’s afa kasi man, hamo hard”
as if it were to excuse my lighter shade?
but I started it didn’t I?
‘I’m half Samoan’
say it loud
say it proud
Feeling I gotta be a little louder
Speak a little browner

I like taro and coconut cream
Palusami and kokoalaisa
Wearing my lavalava as my island dressing gown
Laughing at someone when they tripped and fell down

What I gotta do to prove
I’m just as Samoan as you?
What, you think it’s the colour of my skin?
the words I be speakin?
clothes I be wearin?
that whispers, racism

Then again,
I remember wanting my mum around me
as if she were a ticket
to prove I’m from the Polynesian family
now who’s whispering racism?

Why is it so hard to others to see
Others to believe
The mixed flavours of me
I guess it had to start with

Yes, racism
from family and friends, but my journey revealed
“damn Grace, it’s also from within”

Why can’t we choose to be colourblind
instead of allowing our colour to blind
our vision
of who someone truly is
what they nurture, what they give

gotta find
I found in
His love is colour blind
your blood flows the same as mine

And yeah, I’m still learning my culture and identity
but I feel what you feel, also within me
when that island drum beats
it makes my heart beat
words from my land
to my heart it does speak

My blessed island curves
in this white skin
My English words
wrapped in humour that is undeniably Polynesian

It’s all one in the same
it’s Afa Kasi
the name itself acknowledges

a journey
a struggle
a celebration
a life
being Afa Kasi

. . . A Quiet Moment . . .

As she walks down
sand rubbing amongst her toes,
the sun warming her back
I watch her
I watch as she steps into the water
and allow its warmth to kiss her skin
many years has she been deprived of this
homecoming for her has mixed emotions
loss of a mother, yet sweet memories of life
love for her only sister
yet anger of past words.

The years have seen her age
Yet, as beautiful as ever.
Years of struggle
mindless hours of work
That sees her only desire to sleep
rest in peaceful slumber
on the floor of our family home lounge.

Yet, I watch her now
as she reunites with the waters of her motherland
Dipping her fingers in the water.
It’s almost like watching a child play in water
the way in which only a young one can
you know that fascination and joy
that you only wish you could taste again
And now here she is
all of 55 years old
the women that gave me life
I've never seen her so peaceful
and alive
It seems her spirit has awaken
just by a touch
a smell
of home

It is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever witnessed
so much peace
on her beautiful face.
But wait – not just that
It’s the way she moves
unashamed of her blessed curves
showing off her malu
proud of who she is
and I've never been so proud
Of her

I wish I could capture this moment
retell the glory of it
people on this beach
unaware of this glorious moment
of a women
disrobing all care
all worry
all pain
and just simply
I know, it seems so simple
so easy
so known
but that is just the beauty of it.

What a sight
and I am blessed to be a witness
and to share this quiet moment with her.

What Women Do You Know?

The truth of a woman
sit down, stand up
do this, do that
hold me, leave me
Yes, no
What women do you know?

Is she Mother?
The women who’s belly cradled your beating heart,
gifted you, held you, loved you.
Put up with doors slammed in her face,
and your back chat talk
sneaky smokes around the corner
when you say, “Oh mum, I’m just going for a walk”.
Yet when you came home . . . she still fed you
What women do you know?

Is she Sister?
The one who your clothes always seem to look better on,
or shouted you a feed when a love had gone wrong.
Drove you crazy with all her,
“I’ve been there, done that”
pushing her advice aside,
only to find that maybe she wasn’t talking all smack
What women do you know?

Is she Daughter?
Whose eyes are a reflection of your own
makes you smile, laugh, cry.
But when she does wrong,
“Oh, she’s just like her father”
but God save the man who should ever stop her laughter.
She is of you
What women do you know?

Is she Nana?
With her smile so old and sweet
But after accidently breaking her favourite plate,
those knowing eyes you just could not meet.
The hand that would slap you
should she find out you lied,
yet the same hands that would hold you
when you broke down and cried.
What women do you know?

Is she Lover?
In whom you delight
Her spirit smelling so sweet,
yes, it was love at first sight.
Yet pissed you off with all her,
“You should know me by know”
When she just didn’t understand
that to speak love you never learnt how.
Yet, she still loves you
What women do you know?

Is she You?
Strong . . . yet silent
Loud . . . yet hurting
Independent . . . yet yearning
Not quite one shape
Not quite one size
But carries Her heart
and mind
You are You
You define You

So be cautious how you treat her . . .
For she is someone’s
Be cautious how You treat You
For You are someone’s
What women will you know?