I am the Apsara’s daughter

for Soriya

I wander in her forest
hearing ankle bells jingle with each step,
the universe at her feet and hands. 
I want to touch her.
She flies in my house in paintings
with petals of orange blossom raining from the ceiling.
With her bas-relief tattooed on my skin 
I worry I’ve offended the deity.
In my dreams I cry out to her, 
                        របស់ព្រះអង្គ ។

I am still learning
as I copy myself in her image.
To she who abides in the sea of milk—
I try to churn my own from motherhood.
I hope it worthy an offering for this nymph of clouds and sky.

Copyright © 2021 by Sokunthary Svay. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 24, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.