Feel the burn

Its been two years since my submission and it still burns. Not so much a raging fire but the embers are still hot.

I wrote this poem after submitting my PhD. I watched a video on inspiring wahine. When I watched it, it sparked something in me. 

She said “the world is waiting for you to set it on fire, trust in yourself, and burn”. 

“Trust in myself”…… huh…. ‘myself’ is a fictional island floating in a galaxy far, far, away that is seen best when you don’t look at it directly. 

‘Me’ is knowing never to take a deep breath because they might hear how much you want to speak but when the gaze comes your way you look down. Swallowing words and thoughts that process in your puku, that form as knots, and when holding on, trying to unravel the nylon rope it moves through your hand and burns. 

Today, I hold a book of thousands of words, that you will not read, the pages hold tears, doubt, sensitivity beyond the years that it took to create. 

They say ‘be grateful’. Must I be thankful for the privilege of confirming to an institution, a regime of power – that I may take the title Dr? Well no not yet…..another hurdle is coming, an oral exam, it’s just a conversation don’t worry. 

But I do.

Spending years listening, hearing contradiction after contradiction and expectations that I must take interest. What I hear is not what I see – the mauri of ego growing like a virus, speaking louder and louder in my ear. 

Manifestations from my puku to my throat, it’s tight, reminding me that this thesis chokes. Slowly taking away parts of me I cannot remember, will I recover? 

I resent the very whānau that supported me. That kept me just down enough to handle me, to consume me, to only get drunk enough to share their feelings. 

I am hurt from my lover. So much rawness, so much shame of how we dance. To hear only shallow words and powerful to powerless actions. To keep fear topped up just enough so we can smell the conformity.

But let’s celebrate the momentous occasion, let’s take a photo, look at the camera,

lets package this up into a nice smile that reeks of bad breath, of ill health,

…but let’s not forget the kaupapa it’s about hauora, at the expense of the writer, to which is no reader, only to examine and judge, oh shit if I haven’t had enough of that already… fuck off. 

Fuck sentence structure, fuck grammar, fuck spelling this mongrel language, fake rules in a fake world that doesn’t exist. 

My indoctrinated mind, remember to consider, be polite, be grateful, remember to fill out that form and pay those extra fees.  

“Don’t do it”, I say, with a laugh. I mean it but at the same time I don’t, who am I to advise, what do I know. 

I know pain, a friend that greets me with embrace, that grips with passion, when I rip into my skin to find. Not like the pain of childbirth, that pain was grounding. This pain is fictional lucid and irrational.

She says “the world is waiting for you to set it on fire, trust in yourself, and burn”. 

I say be careful what you ask for.

Did this sting a little to the eyes that read, or maybe it did burn, if it did, may the throbbing remain longer than it took to consume my words, may it scar your expectations, your assumptions and ownership of me.


Published by Tākuta Teah

Indigenous woman, partner, māmā, sister, daughter, aunty, artist, story catcher/teller, researcher, evaluator and academic. I draw on these identities to express, connect and articulate kotahitanga, mana motuhake and aroha.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: