her shaking fingers, she gripped them tight. Her throat was dry, yet her armpits were damp and felt like they might drip any minute now. Her right hip-joint throbbed and her bra, cutting into her, felt as if it would bust when she next breathed out. But she stood up. 'My husband's mother,' she said, 'cannot speak for herself today. But she will help me tell you her wishes.' 'This woman's an outsider!' protested Tolo. 'She has no right speaking on family matters.' But the olomatua was whispering her address to the court now. Straining to catch every word, Tia repeated, recognising genealogies, yet not able to distinguish which was for whom of the four Samoan judges. At the olomatua's next word, Tia gasped before she could repeat them. 'I,' she said, 'soon-to-be-mother of an heir to the Silia title, am not such an outsider any more.' Stretching a hand toward the olomatua, Tia continued, 'She has granted me that!' __ · The olomatua's coaching was getting louder. 'The last one to hold the Silia title wasTolo's father,' she said. 'Now the title should �e held by a member of another clan. As head of one clan in the aiga potopotci", I have come to fight for the title. My great grandfather was the first holder of the title. Tolo has nothing to compare with my years in the matai council and the length of my service in the aiga.' She was rising now, and when she stood steady, Tia went back to her place on the second bench. Breathing hard, the baby's kicks and the throbbing in her right hip not helping, Tia sat back rubbing both sides of her stomach. ! he olomatt � a was still standing, her rhetoric ringing in the courtroom. Looking back atTia, she asked, 'Are you all right?'With a momentary smile, Tia nodded. 272 SANO MALIFA Rain (Washington DC) The wind comes and the rain. Now I remember everything that happened, everything that mattered, because at that moment when the rain comes, a huge door opens out, and I see through it glittering crystals in all their marvellous colours, in all their different shapes, like a nude family united and underground. And in that moment, I see why everything that happened happened, and why it mattered so much, because there is the truth in the rain, and depth, the numbness of the cold thought, when memory opens like an old wound, yet there-is no pain. Although the wind is strong and bold, it sweeps away nothing but dead leaves, sadness, everything lifeless. But the rain, which throttles the earth and dresses it up like a corpse, walks with me home, and in her arms, slender and strong, there is strength, sustained warmth for a man alone, difficult to hate. Night (State College) The sidewalk is buried in ice, slippery. Icicles hanging from branches illuminated 273
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