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.

 <  1 2 3

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

Two poems by Bonnie Bishop
Outside Ngaoundere by Aaron Brown
Watershed by Catherine Chandler
1955-D and 1945-S by Craig Cotter
Hyacinth by Dylan Crawford
Strays by Judy Darley
Freedom Fries by Krista Genevieve Farris
City Lights, Dirty Window by Janna Layton
The Road to Managua by Wilda Morris
Edinburgh, Alone by Stephanie Papa
Two poems by Eugenia Hepworth Petty
Four poems by Christine Potter
Next to the River by Jeremy Radin
Another Art by Susanna Rich
Five poems from Shoshauna Shy
Three poems by R L Swihart
Two poems by Rimas Uzgiris

Postcard prose

Gritsev Calls by Jeremy Radin
The Last Gentleman by Eldon Reishus

Travel notes

The Pond by Ariana Nadia Nash
So There They Were at the Beach Again, Looking Around by Janice D. Soderling