PoetryIssue 04 | April 2009

Three poems by Hali Sofala


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:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok