For the Joy of Mouths

Summer days ripen
for the celebration of mouths,
for the slinging of grins in greeting.
Flat-lined features broken open
by a constellation

of kin and kai  mingling
in the wash of tongues;
warm shoals goaded
by scented earth, seething.

It’s almost religious
when they bow their heads,
watch the exhumation
with reverence and awe,

almost sexual when they peel
back the layers with a volley of vowels,
expose the hangi like a bride –
presenting her flesh, ripe,
for her king’s consumption.

Dinner serves silence
and satiation with grinding
jaws and married lips.

A spoil of chores crouches
in sun-drawn corners
waits to climb heavy on shoulders.
But even they can’t dim
the brilliance of teeth
dancing to the music of throats.

The revelry settles in circles
and day wilts to tangerine
embers and ash, nests
in the hearths of mountains and home.
The low-slung sun,
in rebellion or imitation,
spits sparks at night’s approach.

And teeth, murmuring
in hammocks, sway
to waiatas and the soft glow
of conversations, fireside.

*Maori words have be hyperlinked for meaning and pronunciation.

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