for Aniwaniwa, aged 16 months
When I come to this place past
the yellow irises and red harakeke
flowers, the current of two languages
pulls me through your gate.
Kia ora! Kei te pehea koe? my daughter
asks. Hullo! It’s good to see you.
We watch the spring of our phrases
their arch from Maori to English
and back again while Aniwa dips
in two language pools, echoes
conversations — moana ringaringa
water song or scatters braided
sentences, not noticing which ones
are Maori and which are English.
Here’s taku puku! she exclaims in her bath.
Pekepeke! I go up! she calls when she jumps.
But what does Aniwa hear? She hears
the dance of words. She hears her body speak.
Outside, the wide-hipped river stretches
wetly over stones and I think
how I like listening here the leaping
sounds bright rainbows in my ear.