Friday, 21 March 2014

Poem analysis: Heritage by Vernice Wineera Pere


Take the sharpened pipi shell,
piece of paua, bird bone,
razor blade if you like,
carve upon my face the marks
of Maoritanga, Let the blood spurt
and dribble down my chin
like the moko of the old women
wrapped in blankets round the cooking fire.
Rub the juices in the wounds.
Charcoal, vegetable dye, Indian ink.
Make beautiful the design, like
the young fern curled across the moon,
or the kiwi feathers in grandfather’s proud cloak.
Seek the patterns of the paua’s inner shell,
the curl of kumera vine.
Trace the call of the karanga across the marae,
the nose flute in the night.
Slice the flesh like the tekoteko’s stare.
The soft flesh, lip, membrane, skin.
Cut statistics on my face:
name, age, place of birth, race,
village, tribe, canoe.
Carve deeply, erase doubt
as to who
I am.
Use the sharpened pipi shell.
bird bone, razor blade.
Use them harshly. Lacerate
my legacy upon me
where all who read will perceive
that I am taking my place
on this vast marae
that is the Pacific
we call home

Vernice Wineera Pere, Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa.
(published: (1989) Harvest: Contemporary Morman poems,
Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books)
We critiqued the poem 'Heritage' as a class, exploring vocabulary and language features. Our final task was to create a piece of art work to illustrate a section of the poem that left a lasting impression on us. Check these out on our individual blogs. This poem was selected as we can make connections to it through our inquiry focus this term "I am New Zealand...together we grow".

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