for Jaymee Goh
Star anise floats in the night–sea of meat bone tea,
backed by the cloud–flower shapes of lingusticum.
Astragalus, codonopsis, and licorice lashed into a raft
drift among goji berries swimming like vermillion carp.
Angelica and polygonatum swirl petal–soft as blossoms;
dioscorea bobs and forms the white sands of a riverbank.
Bulbs of old garlic rise, mountains bright in the distance;
tender meat and bone sink heavy into the firmament.
Cloaked in herb–fragrance, I set two places, lift my ladle.
The image rearranges: the raft touches the riverbank.
Broth clear as spring water, as richly brown as pu’er
soaks into mounds of rice steaming with jasmine scent.
My dear friend arrives. We sit across from each other.
You take a sip of simmer–soft soup, your smile a sunrise.
O, my friend, I need no words to speak my fondness:
to nourish you and to be here with you are enough.
(Editors’ Note: “肉骨茶 (Meat Bone Tea)” is read by Amal El–Mohtar in the Uncanny Magazine Podcast Episode 12A.)
© 2016 by S. Qiouyi Lu