Baggage

Baggage
by Michael Botur

I’m imported from an Old World of atavists
and anti-hijab jabs from enlightened Presidents;
continent of all-conquering currency.
My plane disclaims its Eurocargo on lava tarmac.
We’re ethnic scraps scraped off the plate. Wide-eyed,
I salivate at this space, this colonialist’s bait,

I drool like Conrad
when he saw the necklace-lain Congo jewel.
Each Mangere mangrove here should move
aside so I can stake my Tricoleur, because I’m
insecure. I even heard the settlers changed
their name to Pakeha

from European: such insurgency! A slap, a speed
hump, yup, but it can’t stump the rules of retrospect
which state that history, if sealed, congeals, and cannot
be contested or repealed. So, I lug my luggage with me
In case I must declare identity.

The hotel shuttle is a quarantine. Each passed pub’s
a Celtic, Welsh embassy, but
I’m excluded from the hubris,
I’m just noxious: I’m ambassador
for Ferdinand, Wilhelm, Windsor, Louis.

Decamping here, establishing my principality
I seed elms, firs, chestnut trees.
And hug each oak, so damp and England-old;
I clutch a pocketful of francs.
I long for the Louvre, thirst for the Danube.

But, needing residency, I put my Heineken aside and drink
a Steiny, let my tongue absorb the way you talk: an accent of
parrots, cheese, beaches, wheat, and frosted skis,
And islets, quad bikes, estuaries;
ANZACs, Allies swathed in Swanndri,

Baled hay, udders stuffed with curds and whey
Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, manuka tea. I swallow
spiteful eyefuls of the Sky Tower, a phallic affair,
a contest which can’t compare
with my established Eiffel.

I obfuscate my origin and carry just the core
of it. My flag, my baggage can be boxed,
unlocked upon May Day,
Queen’s Birthday, Bastille Day,
exhumed when we zoom in on the future,

when at parties, they’ll interrogate me: Mate, ya Kiwi?
And my mouth’ll empty –
No rugby fealty or passport can speak for me.
I’ll search my carried baggage, check the mirror.
Then we’ll see

Croatia, Polynesia, Asia
are connected by a common sea
uninterrupted by nationality. Europe was a squeeze
so this refugee begs residency, because you need
My trendy, exotic biscotti and without you,
I wouldn’t have a space to breathe.

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