by Ana Pugatch
Your parents visited the new house first
to ritually cleanse and spend the night. A deva flag
hangs on the front door. In the closet I find
spent candles, the spirits’ empty plate.
The pantry is now stocked with bags of rice
and Lao coffee that’s too sweet. These days
the old couple annoys you—how your mother
whacked down the brush with her machete
as the neighbors looked on, concerned.
I worried about her and your father sleeping
on the floor. But in Laos that’s where they slept—
towels dampened to keep cool.
It will be hot here, too, and with summer
comes heavy rains. I dream of the basement flooding,
copperheads like swirling leaves. With brown
bands, and loreal pits: those infrared sensors
for hunting. We wake every few hours
to fingers of rain on warped glass. In the morning,
there’s still a light tapping as a woodpecker tests
the shingles. No shadows wandered
the unlit rooms last night. Outside, a proliferation
of crocuses—a royal carpet of upturned bells.
Ana Pugatch was the Poetry Heritage Fellow at George Mason University, where she completed her MFA in 2021. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Los Angeles Review, and she was recently nominated for a Pushcart. She works as a content writer for a non-profit in Raleigh, NC, where she lives with her partner and son.
Image: Brittney Strange
Image description: purple and white striped crocuses in long, green grass.