new zealand electronic poetry centre



S I A   F I G I E L

Sia Figiel is a single mother, poet, novelist, painter, teacher and journalist. She was born in Samoa and left when she was 16 for school in New Zealand. Acknowledged as the first woman novelist from Samoa, her first book where we once belonged (Pasifika Press) won the prestigious Commonwealth Writer’s Best Book Award for the South East Asia–South Pacific region in 1997. She has published two other novels, a poetry collection and a CD recording of poetry with Teresia Teaiwa. She has been on extensive reading tours to New Zealand, Australia, Hawai‘i, New York, Los Angeles and Europe, and was the first Pacific Islander to read at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre, London. She was the Distinguished Visiting Writer at the English Department of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa during Fall 2002. Sia is currently working on two novels; After The Butterflies and The Love Monologues of the Masima Sisters, to be published in 2003.

Between the steel bars

For the women (kailua correctional center)

Between the steel bars
You sit
In the dark
Of confinement
A toilet at your feet
A shower at your feet
A mattress of steel at your feet
A holy bible too
At your feet

No sky
No tree
Not even the shadow of the Moon

And they’ve told me not to wear jewellery
And they’ve told me that I cannot see you
(A warning)
(So what if you’ve the same mother?)

After many conversations
And after many explanations
I walk towards you
(in the dark contemplating the silent corridor
the keys
the boots
so what if you’ve the same mother?)
and as I neared your cell
(empty corridor)
you turned
and I see they’ve stuck your heart
to your eyes

because I saw it
streaming too down
my face

(and you gave me your hands
and you gave me your hands
between the steel bars)



Last updated 04 July, 2004