Journal » Trout 13 » Making Siapo: 5. Dyeing Siapo [Cherie Barford]
   «       1       2       3       4       5    6    7       8       9       10       »   


Making Siapo: 5. Dyeing Siapo

Cherie Barford

dye is made from candlenut trees

the shoots of coconut palms gathered
in woven baskets with turmeric roots

dried and powdered mountain clay
mixed with seeds and the sap of plants
sought by hurricanes uprooting the coast

and the cut trunks of towering bananas
shading clusters of ripening fruit


my hair's the colour of siapo
whiffs of white peeping through
with random smudges of grey

blotted by immersion dyeing
the free-hand painting of highlights
the rubbing of youthful promise
into an aging scalp

my great-grandmother
wrapped herself in siapo
in the days when whalers plied
antipodean coastlines for loot

she was a taupou
escaped and bore a child to a man
old enough to be her grandfather

sometimes when I'm combing
anti-frizz emollients into my hair
pulling it back and up into a bundle
to fix with plastic turtle-shell combs

I think of Fiapaipai
her fall from grace
the village curse
my own life

and smile or weep
depending on the day

Taupou = village virgin


 « contents » 
© Copyright 2006 Cherie Barford & Trout.