Two Poems by Nida Sophasarun

A photo of a dilapidated room.

Southern Magnolia


I walk home barefoot from the pool.
The old, white neighbor takes his time,
and just as I pass the pink, foamy tide
of azaleas, he emerges from under
his oaks. He’s kindly, or maybe just
polite. He mentions
the overgrown grass.
The old man thinks our family
is slovenly, cheap.
But he does the neighborly thing
and calls the house
to lend us some tools.
I pick up. He jokes, says he hopes
I wasn’t waiting for a boy
to call. He says,
You’re not like that, are you?

No, sir.

I’m 15. I give the phone to Dad.
I keep my head down at dinner, clean my plate.
Outside, the evening
bruises. The roux of dust and pressure
loosens. Fireflies appear. Raccoons,
then possums, shuffle up from the woods.
Every night, I climb the driveway
and smoke. I picture miles
of kudzu along the highway —
scales that flutter
as they take over.
Then I ash where the halo
of streetlight falls
half-on asphalt, half-on
the magnolia at the end
of the cul-de-sac, where we live,
and that tree lives,
older than the bees.



The Horses


At night I think about my mother —
how she no longer inhabits
all the rooms in her body.

I wonder if in her dreams

she walks outside or even flies
over the corrugated roof.

This fantasy feels like betrayal.

For she says she sleeps well —
so deeply she doesn’t even dream.

But night comes, and
I send horses

to nod their way into her rooms.

They warm her halls and leave hair
in the hinges.

It’s impossible for me to leave
her body alone.

She would be mad if she knew.

I’ve never been able to leave
an empty room

unpainted, which is the problem

with longing —

the horses take off

in the morning.

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