Valerie Navarrete

can you promise me now
when you see me at the bridge,
you won’t say you’re proud
and I won’t say I’m sorry:

Lady Meng Po’s cloak will guide
the steam of her soup, stationed well,
with hands ready to serve,
greeting passengers, holding out full bowls

to the dead girls, the first sip is sweet,
the second is regret as she meets her mother’s gaze,
third is spillover debt, as heavy hearts still
across the bridge,

we’ll wait
until warm amnesia soup slides into our bellies,
to forgive each other, decide that

in the next life,
you won’t give me decades,
and I won’t spend my whole life
trying to give them right back

next time,
we will hold each other through more
than quiet vigilance, allow our fingers to touch
as we lift the prayer bowl

CINDY KUANG