Pasefika Issue: The Unbearable Lightness

Poem by Faith Wilson. Also published in Fightback’s special Pasefika magazine issue.

My mum will always lose your mama jokes

cos they’re true. Your mama’s so poor

she mixed tomato sauce with water and pretended it was soup.

Your mama’s family so broke they break

into neighbours houses but they don’t steal

TVs and radios they steal food.

Your mama’s so damn poor that 11

people live in their tiny Tokoroa state

house and they didn’t get a car til she was 14.

My Papa, worked long hours at Kinleith

that made his heart and brain think

that happiness is just pulp fiction. He milled

paper but he didn’t make any and he died

of a brain tumour the size of eight

kids and a mortgage yet they will call

his labour unskilled. This ain’t a show

without punch I’m just telling you to go to Tok

and feel the poverty and try tell me that it comes down to

‘just get off your arse and get a job’.

But my mama’s different cos she got out of there.

Ooooh gumma mumma! Yeah my mama’s so smart

she married a white man built a house from wood.

My daddy’s so smart he sent us to a white school

and we suffered cultural dislocation but as long

as we’re educated it shouldn’t matter, right?

And now I’m so smart because I got so much

debt but some o dat paper

that says I can write about it.

And I’m so smart because I finally figured

out irony even if I’m a generation too late

so my understanding is more like a self-discovery.

O! If only breaking the cycle were as easy

as an existential crisis or the flip of a coin

or as smooth as a crisp bill rolling out of an ATM.

Because you care about breaking the cycle.

You care about poverty eh?

You care about what I’m saying.

But I don’t care about you.

And this writing isn’t for you.

And you, you will continue to care

in the face of blatant rejection.

Give me a penny for my sorrows

and I’ll give you a burden to bear.

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