Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Upolu

The fales flicker as dark falls. There is so much
water here
in the falling dark, here on the edge of this water
so much
water in the air, under the feet, in the hair,
in the
pores of  my skin, in the mildew splashed on the boy’s
white shirt,
in the pores of his skin – polished to a sheen like the surface of 
is polished by low flying birds, by a ripe
sun. He


with a papaya – so orange, so roughly cut, threatening
to spill –
and it will spill down the sides of a mouth onto a shirt onto
a lap
to be washed off by the sea as if the sea is a bath filled and
and the beach, a towel waiting.
A mouth
is on the shirt now, pushing up inside, had I seen her? Had she been
She is urgent, muscular. But what of the fruit – ?
Not orange

at all in the sudden darkness, and trodden into the dark sand –
not fruit
at all, and the boy is not a boy at all, dark or light, I mistook him.
He is
evening water, he is red earth, he is wide wet leaf, he is ripe fruit,
he is


                                  Mary McCallum

See my last post for commentary about this one. Upolu is the main island of Samoa where the capital of Apia resides. I stayed there once - not just Apia, but on the east and south coasts too, and then over the water in the Big Island of Savai'i.

Fale - pronounced 'fah-lay' - it is a thatched house. Visit more Tuesday Poems here. 

Note: poem updated at 11.45 am on 26-10-10 -- a slight restructuring (some new line breaks) and removal of the odd infelicitous word. Now the short lines make a condensed version of the poem...


harvey said...

A rich poem. I like the 'ripe sun'. You have a matching pair of poems here that are great.
Ruth Gilbert years ago wrote a series about Samoa that I thought caught the flavour of those unique islands. You've done the same.
Harvey said...

How fortunate are we to have these beautiful islands of the Pacific so close to us and so rich with the ripe sun and fruit of your poem - the magic of an ocean-front fale, the music of the language and yet many Kiwis still rush to the Mediterranean without ever having tasted the Pacific.

AJ Ponder said...

Like going on a wee tropical holiday without leaving the computer. I'm pleased I saved your poem for last. :)

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks Harvey, Maggie and AJ. I must look up Ruth Gilbert's Samoan series, Harvey, we went to Samoa 13 years ago and I find I keep falling back into it for poetry and imagine a number of them now... Maggie - oh if only I could have another Pacific holiday NOW, and AJ - think I'd rather have it for real. But thanks (-:

Elizabeth Welsh said...

I adore the stealthy dynamism and locomotion of this poem, Mary! Thank you for posting such a gem.

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks Elizabeth - that movement is important to me - that it flow like water - in the movement of the boy and the sensuality - and in the blending of the boy into the woman into the landscape - a kind of erotic revelation.