As you drift the winter Mekong River
will you recall the taste of our red wine?
The games of chance and skill, the push-hands
by the lake with the heron, the restaurant patios?
I look into the clouded sky and the stars say
we four have been friends many lives before,
before we shared those hand-carved pipes at dusk,
and, in our shabby clothing, looked at sacred things.
The rains will swell our streams before you return,
and all the green their wet breath brings
will overcome our gardens here
when we gather together one more time
to separate the endless weeds
from the herbs we steep for tea.
James Engelhardt, Nebraska, USA