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Two Poems                                            Mary Soon Lee






Down in the basement,

my parentsʼ kitchen

had no pretensions,

no chance at glamour.

In mismatched cupboards

chipped china crowded

against tupperware tubs,

but we drank from Waterford crystal,

each glass handmade, beautiful,

a thing of art

that might have stood with pride

in a display cabinet,

but which we used each meal.

The first time I dropped a glass

I thought my fatherʼs anger

would break upon me

sharp as the glass shards

at my feet,

but instead his calmness calmed me,

telling me accidents happen

and he would rather I broke a glass

than that they went unused.

In that kitchen,

I ate the same breakfast

every school day,

a bacon and tomato sandwich

at the old formica table,

the same battered table

where all our friends

sat down for cups of tea

and the company of my mother;

the table at the center

of the room at the center

of my world.













Ask Me Now



Donʼt ask me afterwards how it went:

ask me now, a month before we go,

before my feet are blistered,

my luggage lost, my children weary,

the pool closed for repairs.


Ask me now and I will say:

these will be the best days

of the best summer of my life.

We will build a sand kingdom

with castles, palaces, towers,

bridges, moats, villages, cannon,

airstrips, rockets, moonbases,

and when our hands are waterlogged

we will sit beneath a striped parasol

eating banana splits.


At night we will play miniature golf,

roast marshmallows, swim under the moon,

and I will read the nineteen books

that I have hoarded for this trip,

and each book will make me almost as happy

as the card games we play in our hotel room

on the only rainy day,

a day which we spend giggling

and wearing silly clothes

and painting our toenails.


Ask me now.




Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but became a naturalized US citizen in 2003, and has lived in Pittsburgh for the past twenty years. Her poem “Interregnum” won the 2014 Rhysling Award for Best Long Poem and may be read, along with other poems of hers, at