/ Third Place, 2023 Plentitudes Prize in Poetry /
8:44PM, Meijia Wu
the last tour bus pulls away
to stretch by the bridge
feet raised to stone pillar
over neighbor's dinners
in a 600-year-old village
for generations they grew
green tea leaves rice terraces whirled
like thumb prints curtains
descend for the eve.
in Lima, it is a new morning
a wok sizzles with chopped peas,
carrots, & greens a chifa owner
yawns from playing mahjong
into the night multicolored buses
painted Bolivar Arequipa rumble by
six years here with his wife
capital city gateway
to their lives dog-eared
in Havana, grandmothers head to lunch
in La Casa de los Abuelos
greet each other with ¿Cómo estás?
¿Cómo andas? 早晨,早晨!
canes tucked under arms
free hands goalied for embrace
aunties & uncles finish sipping tea
before morning tai qi
a grandfather looks his laminated photograph
in the eyes wonders about his son
tucked between cities.
in Johannesburg, auntie Judy rings up
soy sauce & chili flakes her husband Sing lifts
bags of jasmine rice to restock
their small shop in Cyrildene a new Chinatown
emerged with small restaurants from the north
hand-pulled noodles with local employees
tensions ready to burst across the street
residents shuffle red bags brimming
veggies head home
from Sunday's afternoon stroll
in blazing heat.
in Hong Kong, it is night
by the islands of Lantau
fishermen head to bed
with buckets of oysters & clams
mangroves accompany them
quietly in the bay water ripples
brush soft bubbles onshore
no need for wall clocks
here, the moon
deep roots reach.
i stand at the shoreline and stretch
i worry about my country caving in.