To you who asked “is that your mother”? To you who said “every time I see him, he gets whiter and whiter”. To you who have enquired “Are you … “. And to you who proclaimed “you are not really …”.
To me, instead of replying ‘yes’ and casting downward, I raise and ask. Where is your mother? Is she at your side? Does she lay her life in your place? Do her eyes search only for you?
To me, instead of deafness, I politely ask. Where were you when the old lady was sick? When she fell? When the last breath rattled from her weary body? Were you there?
To me, instead of being expectant, and acceptant even, I answer without deference. Of course.
And to me, instead of a gaze unknown, my young self no longer a silent voice. But what could you possibly mean?
To you. To me. My feet sink in the same earth. It matters not where I am. It matters not who is speaking. For. On-behalf. Over the top of. In place of. It matters not.
In spite of. Even better, because of.
I draw the same warm embrace of Papatūānuku, the timeless gaze of Ranginui, and the undying protection of all those scattered between.
Matariki, mother of six. The dawn sky. The dawn promise. Always. It matters not.