by Cornelia Rohde
We squat on wooden stools outside crumbling
Scott’s Market, cupping steamy bowls of mohinga
from a street vendor: chunks of river shad,
lemon grass, tender core of banana stem, chili,
pungent shrimp paste, onions laced with rice noodles.
Shafts of light chase shadows from the open stalls.
I watch slanting sunrays burnish
the golden lacquer of a Hintha bird,
teasing glints from its faux-jeweled wings.
“The Hintha is said to eat only pearls. To us,
this bird means love and faith in marriage.”
His tapered fingers offer a slim green cheroot.
The taste is smooth and mild, as clement as his smile.
I savor soup and a smoke with him,
and bring a sacred swan to you.