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  • Te Awaroa(The Valley of the Long River)
  • Serie Barford (bio)

Molly traversed the ocean on a sailing ship that floundered on sandbars within sight of land

she spilt with horses, fruit and other pale faces into a river valley drowned long ago by the sea

and weighted by her buttoned boots sank beneath the wails of migratory birds

fish unpinned her knee-length hair flicked their tails through her petticoats kissed her hands and lips farewell

but what everyone remembers is the waves carrying Molly ashore and how her husband knelt beside her

polished an apple from the capsized cargo on the left pocket of his torn, briny shirt

then sliced it in half with a bushman’s knife to reveal the five-pointed star of Venus

when he pressed it gently against her cheek the eggshell-white skin of his facewas so tightly stretched over the bonesit appeared to be on the verge of tearing

Serie Barford

Serie (Cherie) Barford was born in Aotearoa to a Samoan-born mother (Stunzner/Betham/Leaega of Lotofaga and Fulu / Jamieson of Luatuanu‘u) and a pālagi father. Her latest book, Tapa Talk, was published in 2007, and her works have appeared in multidisciplinary books, journals, and Web sites.


This poem is in response to Albert Wendt’s novel The Mango’s Kiss (Auckland: Vintage, 2003) and the italicized lines are quoted from page 91 of that book. [End Page 328]



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p. 328
Launched on MUSE
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