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John Puhiatau Pule


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From ‘Thirty Songs of Love and Life by the Nineteenth-Century Poet Tomai, of Liku’
in The Shark That Ate the Sun (Penguin, 1992)


 
24
 
In 1861 when the Rev. W.G. Lawes arrived to take up his
            post as new missionary, six churches were up towards
            heaven and only eight heathens left on this lonely rock
            of the ocean.
 
I believe in God but not the white man’s God, the
            merchant friend told me. God is the world we live on.
            God is female always when hunger pains the male’s
            soul.
 
Since many of my friends are heathens I invited them to a
            session of home brew behind the church in Alofi.
 
First man: every one of us has a God. God is in my mind
            but in my heart he is nowhere to be seen.
 
Second man: God is the earth. When it rains something is
            dead or dying.
 
Third man: when the sun burns my family and drinks the
            water, I know it is God’s way of talking to us.
 
Fourth man: sixteen years old. I pray only if my life is in
            danger, or a dream tells me I must live for myself and
            forget about the world. God therefore is a leaf caught
            in a storm. People who believe in God are waiting to
            be saved.
 
Fifth man: stands up. God to me, is life when all other
            living things know each other exists.
 
Sixth man: God is the reason why I am here drinking brew
            with you.
 
There was so much laughter the pastor who was out
            strolling in the Pacific heat ran in fright to the safety
            of the church.
 
Seventh. Female. A beautiful girl stood up and pushed a
            tree over. You guys talk shit. God is white on this rock.
            We are black and our thoughts belong to the days and
            nights of the past.
 
Eighth. Female. All you men ever do is boss us around, and
            only want us to bear male babies.
 
Ninth. Which was me. No more brew. And we all laughed
            ntil the pastor came out for a closer look.

 



John Pule
 


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Last updated 25 September, 2005