The Boiler

Samantha Lê

MAKING LOVE ON THE ROOF

I told him, they named me Ruby, the color of coagulated
blood; but the unsmiling man didn’t smile. His tongue tasted
of sour artichoke soup; the smell of vinegar and anise.

His hands slipped off my hips. He couldn’t find where I hold
my grief. Under the ash-soft skyline of a French girl’s childhood
dream, he entered me like he would a room full of old shoes.

In poetry class he had read a poem about Ruth. He sang
her name as if it were written with an infinite number of vowels.
Ruth. Ruth. Ruth. There were slats of light, and there was Ruth.

What had happened to that passion? Jets painted white veins
across the sky. The walnut trees whispered about draught. Mocked
turtle stew with ground turmeric and periwinkle meat simmered

on the stove, but it was the shadow of a white owl on the rise
that caught me like the disturbance of brocaded carp swimming
below the pond’s surface. Something new to replace this life.


Born in Sadec, Vietnam in the aftermath of war, Samantha Lê immigrated to San Francisco when she was nine. She now lives amongst the foothills and vineyards of California’s central coast where she paints, hikes and reinvents old, family recipes. A recipient of the James D. Phelan Literary Award and the Donor Circle for the Arts Grant, Lê holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San José State University. Her publications include Corridors and Little Sister Left Behind. Her poetry has appeared in Able Muse Review, Pampelmousse, Reed Magazine, Two Thirds North and other fine literary journals.