The Situation: Serie Barford

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton

If you were a tiputa


if you were a tiputa
I’d steal you from the museum

treat and preserve you

lift soil from your shoulders
with low pressure suction

divert the landslide
that swept you away

swab you with blotting paper
parcelled in acid free tissues

bathe you like a delicate artefact

lay you in humidification chambers
rehydrate your brittle parts

tenderly lacquer your frayed edges
patch gaping wounds with kozo

drape you over my shoulders
slumber within your bark cloth folds

press you against my heart

—Serie Barford


tiputa poncho-like garment made from barkcloth

The midwife and the cello

I was perched amongst pīngao
contemplating a paragliding instruction

Don’t look at what you want to miss

when a woman sat beside me

pointed at the lagoon’s mouth
breaking into hazardous surf

crooned   I’m a midwife
sing and play cello

I observed her eloquent hands
sand burying sprawling feet
lines networking a benevolent smile
dreads tied with frayed strips of cotton

remembered you returning home
buoyant with the miracle of birth

the baby with omniscient eyes
you eased into this world

how she lay within your arms

didn’t cry

—Serie Barford

Serie Barford biography

Smiling woman in front of a window with storks engraved on it.
Serie Barford. Image selfie by Serie Barford.

Serie was born in Aotearoa to a German-Samoan mother and a Palagi father. She was the recipient of a 2018 Pasifika residency at the Michael King Writers Centre. In 2019 Serie attended the launch of the Ukrainian version of her Tapa Talkpoetry collection in Kiev. Anahera Press plans to publish her latest poetry manuscript, Sleeping With Stones. Serie is currently writing poems and stories about the Casualisation of Toto/Blood in the Western Medical System.

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