Actually your Singapore sons and daughters
are quite safe with me,
says the oldest solitary ang moh* woman
in Holland Village (ersatz mock windmills)
tonight as she sips a margarita
at Cha-Cha’s Mexican.
Your children have the pick
of each other, all sleek
pretty happy things.
There’s no reason they would
want to be with a sixtysomething
former blonde who scowls when they
call her aunty, who refuses
to be what the world wants her to be.
She’s ordering another drink
from the friendly Filipino waiter,
pock-marked face and
problematic work permit,
he knows and
ABOUT THIS POEM
Čica isn’t really what the vineyard workers said,
it was djevojčica
but that’s a mouthful. My Kiwi ears
heard it as dabchick, from a poem I’d just
read, and I thought it was beautiful
how this culture – not mine by blood, but
by marriage – saw girls as fuzzy brown balls of feathers.
Decades later I still recall random words,
kola (circle), vino (wine).
Teta Mary (Aunt Mary), dida for grandfather.
But mostly I remember the swearing,
something that sounded like cunte cusha
and family yelling the shut-up word,
muči, over and over.
Two generations down they were still
angry, torn, bitter, murderous
about leaving Dalmatia,
fleeing the Austro-Hungarian war
all the way to
the raw frontier of Aotearoa
having to dig kauri gum
then acquiring land,
they knew the
importance of possession.
The soil, heavy clay,
totally unsuitable for grape vines,
they planted them anyway.