Monica Sok is a Cambodian poet from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She holds degrees from American University and New York University. A Kundiman fellow, Sok has received scholarships from Squaw Valley and Napa Valley writer's conferences. Her poems appear in Narrative, Crab Orchard Review, AAWW Margins, and others. She lives in Brooklyn.
My aunt doesn't want help burning garbage near the persimmon forest behind the yard grows a garden, the banana tree proudly glows when the light goes out the house my aunt, as she sees the monk by her gate for his morning round & plump her calves in my hands when she asks me to massage her legs are swollen but she walks everywhere or calls a tuk tuk to travel long distance to the city from here is kind of unbearable but I try to hang out here anyway I'm afraid my aunt won't like me much unless I keep my mouth shut the kitchen door Srey Mol or else it's your fault the hen & her chicks get inside the mosquito net I'm always reading until my aunt says breakfast on the table is sometimes a place to sit, lie down, or nap, or on the hammock tied above the trees of this village, the night is not as dark as I thought, especially in the forest by the house, my aunt likes to crouch knees bent, heels touching the dirt isn't too much dirt & I'm not too much of a priss that I cannot sit beside her she keeps betel leaves to chew on & I crouch down without her noticing I'm there she turns toward me slowly, wondering how I got there, there, there again I got no smile from her blackened betel leaf-crusted teeth are the scariest features in old Khmer people I know, criss-crossed eyes gazing on me for a moment, my aunt stares hard, back at smoke prancing over banana peels, over the sweets I had & the Cokes, I'd rather be garbage, just garbage that she said in her low voice go back, go back