How dare you fear your own footsteps?
Who do you believe yourself to be?
You often walk along my shores,
Pick up shells and whisper secrets in my ear.
Sit and sink your body in the wetness of my womb
And ask me how and why
You must go on.
“Loveless, lifeless,” you say,
Uncertain of what’s to come
Unaware of which foot to place in front of another
With which eye to seek out truth
Where to move.
Swinging your sacred ends from here to there, there to here
Never once recollecting
That you came to be
On the tide of my unending love.
Birthed by the radiance of a distant grandmother moon.
Cradled, creeping, crawling, and now dancing
Blossoming, billowing on the sweet rays of sunlight.
And when that light intensifies, you climb it
Like coconut tree
Let them drink, then give it back to me.
You know the sacred,
Yet do not see it within yourself.
You ahu to your bisabuela’s missing teeth.
You mata of your lolo’s ōpū
You chaparrita off your auntieʻs coco butter wrist
You singing the wind beneath the wings of every sunken sail.
You breathing life into the lungs of a weary traveler.
YOU Buffalo woman
Shake and shatter
Break and bounce
Whirlwing of a love
Fierce, sharp as an elephant tusk
But elegant as her trunk.
You bear down your feet into the earth and let it run.
So why, darling, would you ever fear your footsteps?
I, your mother, and You, my child.
- Leilani Banday
LEILANI BANDAY is a Tongva territory based artist taking strides for truth, beauty and indigenous recognition. Also a mother of two boys, Leilani draws inspiration from the wisdom that parenthood provides, as well as her experience as an Island Womb*an. “A Stage of Our Own captured me instantaneous. Not only is the platform for Pasifika voices extremely needed at this point in our world but these womxn have become my sisters... this is a family. And from that familial relationship sprouts an inconceivable love which fuels our creative fire almost uncontrollably.... I’m so lucky to be part of this,” she says.
A STAGE OF OUR OWN (ASOO) is a Philippine and Pacific Island collective of artists, organizers, educators, and researchers, creating contemporary works centered on womxn’s experiences.