Iced Coffee

Dinh Xuan Phan

Would we know each other anywhere else
but here at this crowded round table in a
small square kitchen every Sunday afternoon
where pepper leaf, fish mint, and purple perilla
accent every plate of sizzling crepes, where
spicy curry meets sweet baguette, and
Swiss Maggi and American sriracha,
comprise our condiment centerpiece?
It is always the same:
the too-fancy silverware and paper napkins,
the home clothes and long black hair
absorbing the pungent scent of
fish sauce swelling the air.

In the living room, the adults are drinking
cà phê sua đá, laughing every syllable of a
language whose sumptuous depths are foreign
to me and to Kim with a wicked smile
leaning forward to hear electrifying gossip,
virtuous Lina ignoring them, and Lily disdaining
the durian being served, hoards the dragon fruit.
I wonder—all of us, reclining here, plotting
our next trip to the outlets in Grapevine,
dreaming of our glossy magazine futures—
where else but here could our lives
intersect and be understood?


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