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Fulbright in New Zealand

To a Maori Woman from an Indian Sister

page 100

To a Maori Woman from an Indian Sister

Your brown face
Is a mirror
In which I see
The scarred faces
Of my people.
Sioux, Apache, Blackfoot
And the rest
Wounded, like you
By the Colonial Experience
Manifest Destiny
The exploitation of our mother
Whom you call
Papa tu a nuku.

Your bearing
Regal still
In calico
And Polyester
Is a glass
In which I see
The straight backs
Of old Indian women
Walking reservation roads
Phoenixes, rising
From the ashes
Of razed

Our people say
That culture is a cup
From which a People
Drinks the water of its life
One of our old men
Told the Anthropologist
‘Our cup is broken now’
But he was wrong
For women are the keepers
Of the cups
And grandmothers' Earthen cups
Buried in caves and streams
Hidden behind
The Wedgewood teasets
In our parents' breakfronts
Out of the sight of boarding school teachers.

page 101

And the missionaries
Are found
Brought out
For the special Occasion
Which is called

I toast you now
With my cracked
And time-worn cup
Which still holds that
Of which a people drinks its life:
Here's to:
Proud children
Who speak grandmothers' tongues
Nature revitalised
Ourselves unbent
Cold water's blessed relief
On blistered lips, parched throats.

Ann Hill-Beuf, Fulbright scholar, 1983