Mother, where are we and why are we here?
Daughter, we are in the land and of the land, and we are here because we are here.
Mother, who or what is the land?
The land, Daughter, is Papatuanuku, our Earth Mother, who cares for us all, and for whom we must care. And the land is you and me, and all that has gone before, and all that will be.
But Mother, how can we be part of the land? How can the Earth Mother be you and me?
Daughter, human life originated from the land, and the hand that painted us mixed clay, ochre, lime, and burnt kauri gum together with oils to create our earthy, muted tones. We are therefore earth and art.
But Mother, what about all the blue and grey and light far above us?
My daughter, the blue and grey are also part of us. We are the descendants of Ranganui the Sky Father and Papatuanuku the Earth Mother, and the hand that created us gave us shared colours, contours, and brush strokes, and an inner light that shines through like a mighty waiata that we all sing in harmony together.
So, Mother, what about those other lights that shine so brightly up there?
Daughter, some say that they are stars and that they shine even more fiercely than our sun. Some say that they are the eyes of an angry god. Others claim they are the seven Pleiades sisters who were turned by an ancient Greek god into doves so that they could fly away from danger on earth. Still others would call it “Starry Night”. But then, there are those who say that they are Matariki and her daughters who will use their mana to guide the winter sun safely around our earth.
And are the bright lights also part of us, Mother?
Yes, Daughter, for our eyes reflect all that is out there, including the stars. And, like Matariki and her daughters, we are Mother and Daughter.
Mother, does that mean that one day we may be up there with them?
Of course, Little One, but we may also rest in the breast of Papatuanuku, or just be ourselves in the present moment.
I’m confused, Mother, it all seems so vast and impossible.
It is vast and impossible, Little One. But you don’t need to worry. I am your mother. And we have a mother above, a mother below, and the mother beyond, who brushed us into being in art, and in symbiosis with the earth, and sky, and stars. And her name, Little One, is Star.
But Mother, what can we do?
Daughter, just look up at the sky and stars with me, lean with me into the land, rest your head upon my shoulder, and feel my arm around you. And know that you love me, and I love you, and that two are one, and one is all.
Thank you Mother. Goodnight.
You are right, Daughter, it is a good night.
Vivien Van Rij
Link to Maori myth
Vivien was born and brought up in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her first career was as a performing artist during which she travelled the world, working in professional theatre in places as diverse as Europe and North Africa. Vivien's second career was as an academic lecturer in English in Education at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and she has a doctorate and several published scholarly articles to her name. Now that she has retired, Vivien has time to pursue her ongoing interest in the visual and performing arts and literature, and to write poetry. She particularly enjoys writing poetry about art works by Star Gossage.
The Ekphrastic Review
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