lo’u fatu o se mauga

By Sofi Fuatino

my heart is a mountain, but only half of it has always been lush with life. for in my childhood,
flames of anguish set by a protective mother sparked and spread over the half where my
indigeneity should have been fertilised and allowed to grow.

i kept trying to find seeds to plant there, hoping the dry, cracked dirt would yield a rich, bountiful beauty. it was a struggle, but my mother has slowly started sharing the seeds of mea’ai, feagaiga, siva, pese, gagana, and others of the faaSamoa genus. thus, the blackened half of the mountain is in infancy, still growing, spreading roots deep into the soil.

but there are still patches left untouched or charred. in those spots, flames are liable to spring
up and lick at what i’ve nurtured. the fires of pain, invisibility, ignorance, and anger threaten the
flora of the whole mountain. i sometimes feel consumed by this draining, hopeless energy.

and sometimes, even if it may look as if i’ve doused these forest fires with education and
support and love, i find they spring up, up, up from my mountain heart to my throat and scorch
the insides of my mouth. even the thought of expelling the spitfire tires me, makes me feel
hollow and sad.

i still find hope in redirecting the fire out of my fingers instead of my tongue, spewing forth the
negativity i feel like a stray dog baying at the faraway moon. it is slow, but i hope, i strive to
recover and to engulf the entire mountain in bright colours and singing birds… someday.

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