Poetry - Issue 04 | April 2009

Three poems by Hali Sofala

Fa'a Samoa

Four o’clock creeps in slowly,
riding in on waves of heated air
that shoot up hills and deliver time
to Vailele on the ocean’s veranda.

In the village, the young men play cricket
or rugby as elders watch—longing to play
one more time, but shuffle feet instead—
their cleats pressed idly in soft, Samoan soil.

Volley balls bounce into fields of play, tanned
children dodge the older boys who chase rugby balls
and rugby dreams to black tar lines painted in the grass.

Through the air slices the sound of a steady breath
blown through a conch shell sending the deep thrum
across time—shaking us from waking dreams,
bidding us home.

Every house is sacred.  Prayers float
instinctively up—past geckos that crawl
on the ceiling and past the palms that curve

over the red tin roof.  Grandmother sings
out of key and out of tune, Fa’avae I Le Atua Samoa
eight o’clock leaves us with tomorrow—

a promise in the water—
as fleeting as floating seaweed—
as constant as the coral reef—
as momentary as the breaking wave.

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About the author

Hali Sofala is currently teaching and working on her thesis at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where she pursues an MFA in English/Creative Writing. Her work here describes the first trip she took to Samoa, the birthplace of her father. It was in Samoa that she was confronted with her other half—a family she had never known, and a grandfather who was dying. She hopes to one day teach in Samoa or in any other country that will take her.

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