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ALICE TE PUNGA SOMERVILLE

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Layers                                               

 

Our language is in triplicate:

Like those old accounting notebooks

With different coloured pages

Nestled one on top of the other

Over and over again;

A concertina, geological time on a rockface, a lei.

 

The writing looks different each time:

Dark pen on top layer

Clear copy next

And finally, underneath, a scratched barely-legible pattern

Readable only if you know what you’re looking for,

More faith and hope than ink.

 

Frustrated with the chore of reading

I argue first and second layers are adequate:

Two languages are more than enough to teach our children;

You gently urge me to persevere

Not directly, but by your own focused study of letters barely there,

Knowing – so I realise – that in faint outlines and mere impressions

You’ll find the heart of me.

 

 

 

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