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Mariana Isara
New Zealand

Mariana Isara was born in Tamaki Makau Rau in 1981. She is currently crafting a collection of poems towards an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University.



Lepe, we had to leave the
'land without vegemite'. You
were c/o God by then. Mum

wanted us to know that some
things can not be honoured and
kept until the day you die.
Sometimes you have to let go.

You being Grandfather's slit
drum would never have approved
of that.     Good-bye, Good-bye, we
waved, and Lani cried for our

silent electric father.


Pale nana's house was flash
but there was no money for
lollies on the D.P.B.

Escaping chores I climbed
the wattle tree, into the sky
I rode my flying fox dreams
imaging you younger

squealing like the Sunday pig
when the pe'a took flight
to hang themselves out in black
windless lines, their velvet wings
o p e n i n g dark umbrellas
against a hot sweaty sky.


Christchurch was a mean city
in the eighties they didn't
like Polynesians much, or
later in my teens bright
psychedelic clothing. I live

in Wellington now. When I
hang out my washing I peg
it down hard. I don't want my
underwear to blow away.

Lani lives in this city too
She wears a  polka-dot dress
She coats her eyes with the night
She goes out dancing, dancing.


Do you remember when the cloud
forests were still whole. The Island
was laid out like the finest
fine mat God must have

woven with Mary's skilled white
hands and lifting your fan at
church, how you longed to hold them.

When we came back here we did
not go to church again, and
after she had cut her hair
short, mum told us that God was

a Woman, which didn't go
down well in R.E class at
school when I was asked to leave
and never come back again.


In Samoa they wouldn't let
The Da Vinci Code screen. On
the radio I heard the
Government censor saying:
'There is no such thing as free
speech, speech is free as long as
it is in the rules'.     I have

not yet learnt to hold my tongue.


The world's a blow up atlas
I want to travel before
it deflates.  I am restless
my afterbirth was never
buried on either island.

I do not know where I will
be returned to when I die.


Lepe, do you know why all
of a sudden I have these
dark half moon circles under
my dim neon eyes?     If I

wake again from bad dreams and
call out your name, would your brown
arms hold me like a fale

holds a family, letting
the sea air come in, could your
cold palms be welcome ice cubes
on a night too hot to move,

can you sing me back to sleep?


We've been told many times how
you would scrub and scrub the floor,
the church clothes, our father's face
until the Lord's glory was

reflected there and your hands
raw and sticky mangoes peeled.

Ten children is rare these days,
things are different now for
women Lepe, we have the
Pill.     David does the dishes
and cooks for me, like before
the missionaries.
You could vote in Samoa now.

The last time that I saw him,
Dad said  heaven will be in-
complete without me. I have
told him to give you my love.