Grief Before Grief by Elizabeth Muscari

We could not decide what was worth mourning

and what was worth forgetting– until we filled a pot

with water, and soaked yellow onions and chicken breasts,

blanketing them in lime juice and basil, then charred ginger

and sent it into that bubbling mouth with only salt, and

boiled rice noodles until they lay limp, as thick steam

hovered below our chins and smelled of sour leather,

but somehow it still made our tongues ache,

we discovered pieces of the noodle package floating

between strands of softened herbs and meat. Combing

through bleached noodles, trying to find more slivers

of plastic, you laughed hard enough to make waves

in your soup, denouncing our amateur cooking abilities,

and I wished I could just keep you, just like this, forever.