Welcoming Ceremony, Poem with audio

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To share breath  the Maori
press noses   startle with intimate
unflinching gaze

for this welcoming ceremony
the whole night must be given
it takes hours to drop such depths

to pray   they sleep side by side
in long lines under the pitched roof
of the marae

fiddleheads and lizards curve around pillars
ancestors watch
tattooed butterfly face  eyes wide

I bed between two strangers
self conscious         awake
listen as breathing slows into

night murmurs and snores
what is holy is born in all that rises
falls    spills over banks

a baby cries  mother comforts
whispering teens never want
to close eyes to each other

woven grass walls expand   contract   rustle

shoulders soften   knees tuck  heads bow
we surrender to dream
fall together    sink down

people rocking in the bottom
of a great ship      traveling home

Note: Marae is a meeting place, a sacred place where culture is celebrated and the Maori language is spoken