Global Sisterhood In Full Effect


I had the immense pleasure of attending a welcome dinner this week for Samoan poet and scholar Sinavaiana hailing from Oahu’s Manoa Valley, Haiwai’i. I found her poetry in Alchemies of Distance to be powerfully evocative and meditative as is the poetess herself. She is definitely a conjuring woman. I feel fortunate to have experienced the fullness of her spirit during her Bay Area visit.

I enjoyed reading this poem so much I felt moved to share it with others and post it on Skyeview.

May the circle be unbroken.

Skye & Sina


  from “Alchemies of Distance”

  (for Ria & the Afro-German sisterhood)

  may your sleep be blessed
  with fragrance: ginger blossoms, white, gold
  & pink/ in the garden where one day we will
  work & play together/ where i will make a bed
  of rainbow petals for your back, & a pillow
  of blue cloud for your head, may your sleep
  be blessed/ with the shade of mango & coconut
  leaves/ where i will hold you & watch/ over your dreaming.

  may your sleep be blessed/ with birds nesting in tall
  trees/ their naked, spindly arms flung out/ in
  wintry benediction/ over all spirits at rest on
  welfenstrasse, in gesing, in heidhausen/ in
  muenchen, in deutschland, in europa, where
  you lie down with your brave heart this night.

  may the sleep of our sisters be blessed
  this night. black daughters/ in the cell block/
  in the crazy house/ in the hospital/ on the sidewalk
  in the rain/ in the snow/ in the dirt/ in the camp
  in the barracks/ on the border/ on the road/ black
  sisters/ with your sons/ with your daughters/ with
  your fine beauty, the colors of earth & sun & shade/

  may your sleep bring strength.
  may the sleep of our sisters be blessed
  this night. & their children, & their lovers
  & their brothers. & their loved ones/ lost
  in burning houses/ spirits leaping out
  of flames/ into black nights of diamond stars
  out of burning rooms where the door stuck
  shut, where the window stuck shut, where
  bright threads of smoke laced the eyes shut.

  may their sleep be blessed/ with cool breezes/ &
  streams of clear water dancing over deep forest stone.
  may the sleep of our sisters be blessed
  this night. warrior sisters/ armed with
  broken hearts & spirit medicine/ warrior
  sisters/ armed by spirit guardians riding
  horses of wind/ warrior sisters/ armed
  with shields of ancestor wisdom & street
  wisdom/ with mother wisdom/ & baby wisdom,
  with girlfriend wisdom & grandma wisdom,
  with hip-hop/ be-bop/ & boogie-woogie wisdom
  with/ audre lorde, billie holiday & bessie smith
  wisdom/ with sojourner truth, rosa parks &
  aretha franklin wisdom/ with tap-dancing,
  sashaying, wide-hipped, brazen hussy wisdom/ warrior
  sisters/ may your sleep be blessed
  on this night/ on all nights/ forever
  & ever, amen.

Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard was born in Utulei village, Tutuila, Samoa.  Her poetry and scholarship have appeared in national and international journals, and current projects include co-editing a mixed-genre collection of indigenous writing by Pacific women.  She teaches literature and writing at the University of Hawai`i and lives in Manoa Valley.  She is the mother of two, and grandmother of Gian Kaur, whose name in Punjabi means “one having knowledge of the divine.”
Excerpt from
A L C H E M I E S _ O F _ D I S T A N C E
By Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard 2002 $12
subpress/Tinfish/Institute of Pacific Studies


One Response to “Global Sisterhood In Full Effect”

  1. wow, beautiful poetry!

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