Miss Siva Samoa by Ashleigh Fata / by Ahilapalapa Rands

She finds her pulse in carved out miro log
The drummer strikes
The boys slap
Skin on skin

Milli milli milli
Warms coconut oil between her fingers
Until the aroma burns like incense
Cleansing the air she is about to float on

She bows
Sii into ceremony finding the comfort of sand between her toes
Home

Her smile is samoa
Her torso this island
Her bloodline this ocean

Daughter of a southern sun
She speaks saltwater and brown sugar

Hips protected by the lavalava of her matriarchy
She moves from her womb
Heritage tatau on the back of her coloured knees
She stands up
She stands out
In a colourblind colony
She is banana skin
Hibiscus
And taro leaves

Missionaries documented her dance as indecent
But still wished their women would move like me
Cause while they were painting their lips red
We slapped it on our cheeks
It's a war dance out here
But we just do it with grace and beauty

The daily dance routine of a samoan woman isn't always easy
The way i undo myself
To remind myself
That I do not dance to amuse a crowd
That I do not live for a crown
That my jewels are shells
And my feathers are brown

Listen
Move
Step
To the sound
Of your carved out miro log
Follow the incense of coconut oil
Dance your taualuga naked in front of the mirror
Because today you are enough
Miss Siva Sāmoa