Ahakoa he iti he pounamu | Although it is small it is greenstone
I choose pounamu / it is a river stone / she was of the earth / she was orchids in the hothouse / less difficult than her husband / fruit trees / their hard graft / plums / nectarines / a child we never spoke of / another a castaway / I choose to plant my legs / to ground them / I am the child of which we won’t speak / I am the castaway / I am orchids / fruit trees / I can bear more than you think / I am a river stone / and I choose a ring made of pounamu / to remind me
Louise Wallace grew up in Gisborne and now lives in Dunedin. She is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent being Bad Things (Victoria University Press, 2017). Her poems have been published in literary journals in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the US. In 2015 she was the Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago, Dunedin. In 2016 she represented New Zealand at the Mexico City Poetry Festival. She is the founder and editor of Starling, an online journal publishing the work of New Zealand writers under 25 years of age.
Louise comments: ‘I had originally written this poem around family, power and women under “I choose a ring made of pounamu”. A friend commented that the poem made them think of the whakataukī that then became the title. I liked the additional layers the whakataukī brought with it, pounamu being a symbol of strength and mana.’