BY MONICA SOK
She threaded the loom
with one strand of her long silver hair,
which might have kept growing until she was done,
which might have fallen out
but I would come in and
sit beside her on the cushion, without her noticing,
and she would continue.
Every day I saw this old woman from the Octopus Tree
weaving at her loom, rivers and lakes
underneath her hair.
The bottom full of silt.
I could see it if I reached with a comb
and that was when she’d look at me.
Under her hair,
she kept her oldest son,
who was out for a morning swim
with swallows swooping down to touch
the water. It made her happy
as she worked on silk dresses
and her hair never ran out.
Sometimes, when she was tired,
she’d tie it up,
and let all the tired animals around her house
drink from her head.
mosquitoes came for the old woman
BY MONICA SOK
She looked back once.
Stones hurled over her open eye.
What happened purple sunbird?
What happened bamboo-bamboo?
Old woman, protect the temple.
Too late. Her hair is a dark moon-rose.
Streaked weavers said they saw her in the lake,
but she cannot breathe in the lake!
Her hair falls not as rain does
but like nails the evening hangs on. Understand
giant ibis, understand.
Tell me, black-faced spoonbill,
spotted-wood owl, dusky warbler,
what do you see? Swarm of mosquitoes
flying south? Is it not strange?
Her long silver hair flowed out like threads from a loom
that glowed in the grass.
Monica Sok was born and raised by Cambodian refugees in Lancaster, PA. She is the author of Year Zero (Poetry Society of America, 2016) and has received fellowships from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Inc., Calabash/The Conversation Literary Festival, Elizabeth George Foundation, Hedgebrook, Jerome Foundation, Kundiman, MacDowell Colony, NEA, Saltonstall Foundation, and others. Sok holds an MFA from New York University. She was recently the 2018 Kundiman Writer-in-Residence at Sierra Nevada College and a fellow of the Lucas Artists Program at Montalvo Arts Center.
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