‘Etu iti

This poem was written in response to the artwork ‘Etu Iti by Cook Island artist Ani O’ Neill. ‘Etu Iti means little stars. The artwork is part of the Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery. The poem is one of a series of responses written by Fika writers collective in 2020.
I am taking your sister out of the sky 
To hold her in my hand and show my son 
He watches you with saucers in his eyes 
Wide-eyed, tracing your whakapapa lines 
Across the black black skies far from earth 

Your sister, she is burning a hole in my flesh 
It melts while I am caught in her trance 
This tiny star, ‘Etu Iti, is a cosmic gift 
Light that was sent thousands of years ago 
When only Papuans and Yankunytjatjara 
Were trekking in the highlands and deserts 

‘Etu Iti where have you been, what sees you? 
Who have you guided home or led astray
With your heavenly rise and rhythmic fall? 
Whose constellation do you play with in the solstice? 
Tautoru, Mataali’i, Te Matau a Maui 
Are they your playmates? 

Or do you instead 
Prefer to follow the ocean tides and swells? 
Watch the people with their busy busy lives 
Always looking down, feet on the ground

A poem from My Grandfather is a Canoe, published in July 2021 by Flying Geese Productions

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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