Default Taupou

come closer 
consider my fisted hands trembling 
how the nails bite into the first layer of my flesh 
watch it break skin
see the blood 
like a crimson fuck this  
perfect for lipstick 
to paint on my lips

listen as I bite the inside of my cheek
taste the metallic 
to seal my mouth shut
a temporary smile

these are my costumes
made of blood 

                        I am a ceremonial hostess of suppressed rage 

now, watch me do the feaus 
like this
watch me dance with the broom
the washing basket 
the vacuum is my mistress 
watch me on my hands and knees
praying at the toilet bowl 
for someone to give a shit 

                        this is my siva1

watch me
                        the default taupou2

elevated sacred silence 
             elevated housemaid 
                        elevated and charged to host and entertain

send me out to your enemies 
as an apology 

                        then watch me go completely unnoticed 





at night 
after my shower
I take one minute 
to stare at my naked body 
in the foggy mirror 
and imagine I am expanding 
till I am light 

1Siva - a traditional Samoan dance performed by women

2taupou - traditionally in Samoa she is the daughter of the high chief, selected to carry out ceremony, and is usually a virgin

Copyright © 2024 by Grace Iwashita-Taylor. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 2, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.