They Have Built a Home Over Ours

They Have Built a Home Over Ours | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Sophia Chong, honorable mention prizewinner in the 10th annual Zócalo Poetry Prize.

The yard has been stripped, the hyacinths
along with the rose bushes, petals heavy of dew,
the basket of a child’s undershirt saddled with toys.
Perhaps for the best—Maa mi always wanted them gone,
preferred concrete, left the leaves cast in ice.
There were koi once and a pond,
a secret garden. I fancied myself
Mary, but spent most of my time pissing on the lawn
when I forgot my house keys. The granite
fisherboy sits in a landfill with his line
cast in a toilet bowl. Rotted blue door, now red,
bloodied tooth.
Boiling summer slaked by the pool where I nearly
drowned. The mosaic at Villa Angsana was a mama dolphin and her baby.
Maa mi said, you’re the baby,
you pick up the badminton birdies that fall
out of bounds because you’re less than three feet
tall and there are only
three of us now.
Before the post office was the convenience store
where we begged for popsicles and
we got them. Cards came through the mail caked with
glitter. I’d run my fingers over the top and think of De Di.
Now Harris County sleeps underwater:
all the cereal between the couch cushions revealed as mush, the
metal awning on someone’s front lawn or in some
abandoned community pool, all pathetic, rust
red and pitted, bleach swept
out along with the curtains and the sheets.
Willow branches tangled in the flooded muck, braided black
hair and yellow, long limbs.
Once, I pushed my beanie baby
out the window, down fifteen stories and thought, it is not so scary
to disappear.

Sophia Chong is a closeted poet who spends her workdays as an engineer on New York City construction sites musing about line breaks and the Asian-American diaspora. This poem, which received an honorable mention in the 10th annual Zócalo Poetry Prize, is her first published work.
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