Ardyn Baia


Grandfather, I love you

Don’t let that tear run from your eye and to your ear
This is not the pain of an ill man
This is the pain of majesty
Calm your body and ball your fists if you must
Surrender my chief, Matai. It is you we trust

“Take it easy, faifai lemu” I would sing to you
My Samoan is not good enough for you to hear
But you’d laugh with me
Grandfather, I love you

Your ula may break but these markings won’t
Your o’fu may rip but these will remain in the oils of your skin
Your family may untie but these permanent lace stockings won’t unravel
I won’t ever leave your side

Grandfather, Alofa ia te oe
Be strong like your father before you
Be strong like your brothers
I will be strong for you

Grandfather I love you
You will wash in the sea and it will sting
I can’t wait to see the dark patterns above your lavalava
Your Pe’a will be the talk of the family
And the talk of the church

Those Fijian women gave us such artistic gifts
But the missionaries said we were savages
Made from soot of shells burnt black
Liquefied and then shark teeth dipped to draw

I wish I could have drawn these patterns but now
Knowing what they each mean
Pele ea.
Grandfather I love you

But I will fish and a great lot of meat for the umu
I can smell the smoke of the feast even now
We can drink from the kava bowl like they used to
Can we Poppa? Is that what we do?

Grandfather I love you
It’s almost done
On the fifth day I’ve come
I missed you

The fale was lonely without your bellowing voice
Grandfather I love you
Alofa ai te oi
Be strong Grandfather
Be strong my chief


Our Big, Bellowing Basket

Stiff fibres, woven, tanned like bamboo with
layers of tethered flax hardened, hairs sprouting.
Our big, bellowing basket that we’d walk with merrily
to the Tripoli dairy, sat anticipating it’s next outing.

Tip-toeing carefully to mother on request,
readily dressed for our conquest.
I held one side of our big, bellowing basket
and my brother held the other.
Money and the list was kept in my pocket tightly hidden away
this was the trip that paused our play for the day
Coconut Milk (Palm)
Our big, bellowing basket in hand, was packed with the items
the shop owner had scanned.
We made our way, returning to be rewarded by our treat,
I knew mother, and cookies were not to season her meat.
As we drew closer to our house’s front door
I looked back into our basket admiring once more.

To our horror we noted, our treasure cradle once bloated
had been emptied of our choc-speckled flour cakes.
“The Cookies! The COOKIES! The Coooook-keys!” I cried
My brother reached in our big, bellowing basket and sighed.
A lemon rolled through a hole and on to the ground
A hole in our big, bellowing basket was present and round
Our cookies were somewhere far down the road
too late to be delivered with the remaining grocery load.
Our big, bellowing basket had let us down
it stayed quiet on the bench not making one bellowed sound.



Ardyn Baia was born in New Zealand however she received her English Specialist degree from the University of Toronto in Canada. She has always been very inspired by her Pasifika background and loves to incorporate Samoan custom and culture into her poetry and stories. Baia currently teaches English in South Korea.

Baia writes that ‘Grandfather, I love you’ is “a poem dedicated to my grandfather and all other Pasifika grandfathers, brothers and uncles who undergo the painful yet divine tattooing ritual from Samoa” and that ‘Our Big Bellowing Basket’ is “a narrative poem inspired by my mother’s Kiwi upbringing, as a Samoan child walking to the dairy for her mother.”