Another Nafanua Poem

When I sit down to write I think of all the Nafanuas the Sinas and the squillions of eels swimming downstream laying eggs getting eaten I see the footsteps of Vela not fresh but freshly retraced hear all the fast-talking PIs so fast I can’t get a word in sideways and when I try I get bloodclots in my throat I choke they’re so well written I think there’s no more room on this skin but then I see Uncle’s ingrown toenail I remember the smell of his toe-jams from the sandals he never got rid of I inspect the cracks on Aunty’s tongue my workaday Father’s split heels the little hair follicles on my Mum’s upper lip I watch Nana’s false teeth clacking as she tells me about stealing coconuts from the nuns about her beautiful sister Clara who died at nine and Agnes who died at nineteen and her mother Saufo’i who died when Nana was fifteen and about Silia’s saggy susus and about Papa my beautiful Papa Charle Sale who was the most handsome man in all of Samoa and about her Aunty who got possessed and sounded like a robot and about being the taupou even though she wasn’t the eldest and lying for her sister Lusia not going to school and straight up telling the police officer that she wouldn’t date him because his breath was so bad it smelt like onions and all of these stories I write down anyway I cast new shades for us to cool off under new pages to dirty make drowsy with kava-spit I stuff them with plantation tobacco make them Irie with that homegrown smoke ‘em like a spliff these are the bloody-marrow of our bones these stories give me my sass when I talk my strut when I walk so take the hibiscus out of your ear and listen. 


I think about all of the things my Mum told me when I was growing up that brown is beautiful and the same goes for big and I’d stay inside all summer and wear long sleeves and jeans if I had to go out, get that sun outta my face please, this girl’s trying to whiten up here! Hello! 

Say no thanks to corned beef but I’ll have the beans only one or two or three then oops, I can’t say no to koko laisa, my bad so down the chute it goes, but it’s not a crime to be interested in perfection is it? 

Back out it goes, I send it swimming, beans like little eels sliver between little brown fishes little brown pods of rice, little brown pieces of my stomach and soul, it’s all coming out now, the food, the shame, to stare me in the face, a huge brown pile of me and all the shit I hate and heaps of the stuff I love (like koko laisa) and it’s a big brown heap of me, of Faith, and I hate it and I love it, but I don’t know that bit yet, and I flush the toilet, flush it all away to get to know all the other shit in the drains and in the rivers and seas I’ll drink it up again when it’s purified, it’ll be a clean part of me, I’ll be me but different, without all that gross shit, I’ll be so clean you won’t even see me, I’ll be like the water, like the water.


Listen to Faith Wilson read ‘#Whitegirlproblems



Faith Wilson’s writing explores ideas of what it is to be a twenty-something, half-caste (afakasi) Samoan female in the twenty-first century and the tropes or expectations of that personhood. She’s really into using language and its sounds as a mechanism to upset or disturb these expectations. This year she completed her MA folio, titled Dolly Mix Tape, at the IIML as an ode to herself and the generations before her.