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PoetryIssue 4 | 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

hands off by John Amen
Etched by Michael Bazzett
First Day in Sydney, 1992 by Catherine Bull
Two Poems by Laurie Byro
Seamstress by Krista Genevieve Farris
Train Kids by Tracey Gratch
Floating World by Karen Greenbaum-Maya
Two Poems by Bernard Henrie
Transcendental Nocturne by Colin Honnor
Newport Mansions, Observed from the Cliff Walk by Jean L. Kreiling
Gifts: Naxos by April Lindner
Two poems by Gary Maggio
10-100 by Bradley K Meyer
Two Poems by Kassandra Montag
Microclimates by Lisa Ortiz
Ukrainian Now by Lauren Reed
Two poems by Kim Suttell
Two poems by Pepper Trail
Morning Trip to the Mechanic by Samantha Walters
Two Poems by Anna Weaver