The Woman Who Was Small, Not Because the World Expanded

By Monica Sok

The elephants came
out from the fields
and carried me toward Chambak,
toward a village doused in fires,
so that in the pond
fish had fried,
and looking at that dead water
was a woman
I had seen running home
each evening with a bucket
in her hand.
Always her speed was the hair
that flew in my face.
Always her feet sounding of tanks
which made dogs bark and flee,
footprints deep as trenches
in the grass.
This is the woman
who had shrunk
so small
when the planes came,
nobody could ever find her.
And since more planes,
she stayed as small
as a spoon,
and the world seemed to enlarge
though nothing had changed,
and when she saw me
she hid, threw pebbles at my ankles
until I bowed down
and easily picked her up
folding her inside a banana leaf.
She slept. She slept well—
she who is my mother
sleeping off the world again,
whose person
I hold in my hand
when she wants to be held.


Monica Sok, “The Woman Who Was Small, Not Because the World Expanded” from A Nail the Evening Hangs On. Copyright © 2020 by Monica Sok. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, All rights reserved.s