PoetryIssue 04 | April 2009

Three poems by Hali Sofala

Mamalu

there are stories that are sacred.
we hold them as a new mother holds her child—
supporting their necks in the crook of
our arm.  cooing in their faces.

there are memories that are sacred.
they reserve space in our mind.  memories
that we water like budding trees—pushing
other thoughts aside to let them grow.

the first moment I see my grandfather I bend
down to hug him because he is possessed
by spirits that lock his legs and pour cement on his feet.

he can barely lift his arm and I feel the dead
weight flung around my neck.  I search
for the man of legend—the warrior of my father’s stories.
I am unsure how to love him.

this is a sacred story.

at home I smile and show the gifts of my trip—
a few leis, a dozen smuggled pieces of coral, a blue starfish.
I show my family how to dance in Samoan—
swaying my hips like the coconut palms—
stepping lightly as if I dance on light bulbs.

months later I sit—alone—and remember my grandfather—
his skeletal form—his drooping eyes—I sob
because I forgot to tell him I love him—
or because I did not know how—in his tongue or mine.

this is a sacred story.

I write down a line
        that turns into two
                and then three

scrawled across a page he will never see & I find my tongue.

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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.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

on a wrought iron bench in Bristol by Jamie Donohoe
Ocean Point by Melissa Goodwin
Amaszonas, S.A. by George Guida
Santé by Zoe Karathanasi
Three poems by Athena Kildegaard
Two poems by Jane Kirwan
African Soundscape by Karla Linn Merrifield
Aubade in Transit by Rick Mullin
The Fields of May by James B. Nicola
Igbo Directions in Amsterdam by Uche Ogbuji
High Jumping Silver by Gail Peck
the ground unfurls by Gabrielle Peterson
Two poems by Mike Puican
Byzantium at the Bus Stop; Byzantium at the Mall by Sarah Sadie
Romance by Askold Skalsky
Two poems by Bill Yake

Postcard prose

Before We Let the Hens Out by Emily Avery-Miller
Cheng Man Ch’ing by Douglas Penick

Travel notes

Life Jacket by Margaret McMullan
Hamam by Caroline Swicegood