For Ida (first Pacific woman judge)
- Karlo Mila
Once I wrote
that we are the seeds of the migrant dream
the daughters supposed to fill the promise
hope heavy on our shoulders
we stand on the broken back of physical labour
knowing the new dawn has been raided.
we are the seeds of a much greater dream
that goes back across oceans of memory
a vision still held in the hands
of humble men buried in humble villages
who chant clear our paths
with every lost breath.
Ida, you have spoken of the sacrifice
of language lost, and the cost,
of success in the palangi world
and you have wrapped your own son safely
he rests in a nest of language
learning to tame words
that flew like wild gulls
far beyond our understanding.
'This is the sacrifice of my generation'
'but it will not be his,
this is where the sacrifice stops.'
The gull circles
and our sense of selves
You touch a vision
clasped to the breast
of humble women buried in humble villages
who still sing
across oceans of memory
in words that our children will be able to hear.
Karlo Mila is of Tongan, Palangi and Samoan descent. She was born in Rotorua, grew up in Palmerston North and now lives and works in Auckland. She has had poetry published in Whetu Moana, Best New Zealand Poems 2003, Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of Fusion Poetry, the Listener and Coffee and Coconuts. Karlo performs live poetry regularly.