After Selina Tusitala Marsh
Walking down Karangahape Road
I only ever see what my clothes let me.
When I am black trench coat and Doc Martens
I see the night lights and cityscapes being swallowed by gentrified stores
half a cigarette packet slumps drunk in my pocket,
I am following the music and hi-fiving every artist
on my way to the next ‘spiritual encounter’
When I am crease-free suit and polished shoes.
I see warm days with Americano in hand
keep my distance from all these poors
I clutch the money in my pocket like a compass
hoping it will guide me to the café we are meeting in for this start up
I never want to be here too long.
When I am sweatpants and musty hoodie,
I pace frantically down Karangahape’s curves
Late for tomorrow’s lecture,
pretending I have submitted last week’s assignment.
ignoring the snob in a suit, imagining myself as every artist I see
I come home to this road in the night,
we club till dawn – celebrating with every other half face that clings to them.
Calling the moana home through each embodiment
I cry for how we have cut them down to “K-Road”,
Hear tales of how Karangahape Road held my people, broken and blooming.
Hear tala about the karanga Hape did to welcome Tainui here.
Wonder whether this was always supposed to be where the left behind were called to?
Unsure. I sit on their sidewalk – continuing to listen to this road breathe.
Eric Soakai (they/him) is a Samoan (Poutasi Falealili)/ Tongan (Pangai Ha’apai) artist based out of South Auckland, New Zealand. A Philosophy/Theology student and an award winning poet, they are University of Auckland Poetry Slam Champion (2021), New Zealand Slam Champion (2019) with works featured in various academic and literary journals such as Knowledge Makers Volume V (Thompson River University Press 2020) and the upcoming Oceanic-Pacific Poetry Anthology with Massey University Press later this year. Their works are often an exploration of embodiment and culture.