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When my mother tells her mother ‘we will eat together again soon’

Natalie Linh Bolderston

she means / I know how long it has been / since you touched wild grass / she means / stay there / let me WhatsApp you a photo / of the hoa táo in my garden / she means / I’ve been sewing masks / using the pattern from Huế / look / I used cornflower print for this one / I’ll mail it to you / she means / I kept your letters / from the first time I left home / she means / last week a woman like me went out / came back / with a bruise on her cheek / she means / do you remember our houseful of guests in Bạc Liêu / how I fanned their backs / with a palm leaf / she means / do you have enough bún tàu / khoai lang / are you taking your medication / she means / I’m still on sick leave / there were two cases on my ward / and my chest hurts / she means / I don’t think I can work anymore / my knees are not strong like yours / she means / I’ve never felt as beautiful as you / she means / my cousin in Saigon says the peach blossoms have come / she means / I know why you fold so many cranes / she means / I never thought we’d be old women at the same time / she means / don’t leave yet