Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Ask the Locals

Nobody knows how those so-called revolutionaries
who wanted year zero so bad,
turned into mosquitoes. I mean, mosquitoes right?
Because not butterflies or moths rolling
in the mass graves—we all know the moths are children
who didn’t make it past five. My theory is those creeps
sucked the blood of their victims to forget
what kinds of torture they did, with their bare hands
or with other kinds of hands, the kinds with teeth.
I’m not trying to scare you now. Just letting you know
if you scratch your arms like that a huge welt will appear
like a rash, will take months to fade (or forget as it goes),
and those mosquitoes will keep coming for you.
You heard it from me. Don’t scratch their real names. 
Toothpaste over that bump won’t soothe you,
not on this one. I’ll tell you something personal: every time
I hear their real names, I scratch my skin. I scratch my own name
too. Mosquitoes. Call them mosquitoes. Like a nuisance.
Just that. I know, I know… it’s been years. The past
should be the past by now but not this kind.
You have to protect yourself because this kind keeps going
like that mosquito’s straw on your calf keeps sucking.
You didn’t see it, did you? This is when I tell you: Don’t move.
Slap.

Credit


Copyright © 2017 Monica Sok. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2017

Author


Monica Sok

Monica Sok is the author of the chapbook Year Zero (Poetry Society of America, 2016), selected by Marilyn Chin as the winner of he 2015 Poetry Society of American Chapbook Fellowship. Sok is the recipient of a 2018 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Kundiman, Montalvo Arts Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. She is a 2018–2020 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Date Published: 2018-04-23

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/ask-locals