Wairua Rd

The Spirits love me so much they sent all the people
in Aranui to be my friends or my parents.

We all walk the Big Path from Cashmere to the sea.

We run like lawnmowers on each others feet.
The Spirits rise up out of the footpath outside the Hampshire St pub.

The space that a bomb took out of the ground walks about
on a pair of legs with a ghost looking out.

The Spirits love me so much they turn me into a plastic bag.

I will live in a whale or a shrimp and kill it.
My mother rises up out of the lino wringing
and wringing the blood from her hands.

The Spirits love me so much we all sit round to watch the sparklers in my brain, the beautiful sunset
the campfire burning, the jerking of my body.

My father rises up out of the carpet and down I go
like knees, like beetroot juice in the whitest of frigidaires.

The Spirits of the Big Path love me so much they have driven me back up to this house.

If the Spirits didn’t love me, I could live in a dog
in a wife, in a house, in a merivale

Or on some other shining path, far away from the hungry road.

Tusiata Avia is a poet, performer and children’s writer. She has published two books of poetry, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt and Bloodclot, and two children’s books. She has a one-woman-show, also called Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, that has toured internationally since 2002. Tusiata has held a number of residencies, most recently as Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence at Canterbury University in 2010. In February 2012 she read her work in New York, London and Scotland.

Avia comments: ‘Wairua is spirit. Spirit within and spirits without, those who come to assist us and those who exist to torment. All the same it is worth listening to them. The places we run from often become the places we are driven back to.

‘After moving back to my childhood home in Aranui, after thirty years away, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit the psychic landscapes that exist there and the ones that open up inside me like origami animals. In the poem I mention a number of the visible landscapes: Aranui, named the ‘great path’ by early Māori of the area who would travel down it to the sea. These days Aranui is an often troubled place, the now defunct Hampshire St pub a symbol of all that is sad and dysfunctional about the area. A place like Merivale would qualify as the social, economic and spiritual opposite pole of it.’

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