Unity

 
Maluna a'e o nā lāhui apau ke ola ke kanaka
"Above all nations is humanity"
 
(Hawaiian proverb)
 
 
Let’s talk about unity
Here in London’s Westminster Abbey
 
did you know there’s a London in Kiribati?
Ocean Island: South Pacific Sea.
 
We’re connected by currents of humanity
alliances, allegiances, histories
 
for the salt in the sea, like the salt in our blood
like the dust of our bones, our final return to mud
 
means while 53 flags fly for our countries
they’re stitched from the fabric of our unity
 
it’s called the Va in Samoan philosophy
what you do, affects me
 
what we do, affects the sea
land, wildlife - take the honeybee
 
nature’s model of unity
pollinating from flower to seed
 
bees thrive in hives keeping their queen
unity keeps them alive, keeps them buzzing
 
they’re key to our fruit and vege supplies
but parasitic attacks and pesticides
 
threaten the bee, then you and me
it’s all connected – that’s unity.
 
There’s a ‘U’ and an ‘I’ in unity
costs the earth and yet it’s free.
 
My grandad’s from Tuvalu and to be specific
it’s plop bang in the middle of the South Pacific
 
the smallest of our 53 commonwealth nations
the largest in terms of reading vast constellations
 
my ancestors were guided by sky and sea trails
way before Columbus even hoisted his sails!
 
What we leave behind, matters to those who go before
we face the future with our backs, sailing shore to shore
 
we’re earning and saving for our common wealth
a common strong body, a common good health
 
for the salt in the sea, like the salt in our blood
like the dust of our bones, our return to mud
 
means saving the ocean, saving the bee
means London’s UK seeing London in the South Seas
and sharing our thoughts over a cup of tea
 
for there’s a ‘U’ and an ‘I’ in unity
costs the earth and yet it’s free.
 

read at The Commonwealth Service, Westminster Abbey, March 2016, © Selina Tusitala Marsh 2016, used by permission of the author

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1The Day Amy Died

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2An explanation of poetry to my immigrant mother

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3Calabash Breakers

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4Orange Crayon Stick Figure Man

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5Anaphoria

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6Apostles

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7Fish Song

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8Black White Desiring

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9Led By Line

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10Belief in Jack Kerouac

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11Unity

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12Statued (stat you) Traditions

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13Guys Like Gauguin

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14Mutiny on Pitcairn

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15Two Nudes on a Tahitian Beach, 1894

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16Hawaii - Prelude to a Journey

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17Tusitala

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18Cumming

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19Circle of Stones

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20Things on Thursdays

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Books by Selina Tusitala Marsh