—by Anita Cade

When the rustling voices of girls linger in your ears,
add the diced onions.

When tears stain your skirt,
add the chicken broth.

When “friends” walk in and keep the rushing going,
spilling all your secrets in the laps of your enemies,

add the carrots.
When drama spreads like a forest fire,

add the celery and sprinkle some garlic.
When an unworthy male tries to whack your assonance

with his hand and a smirk that reminds you of your uncle’s,
add the tomatoes.

When you get an A on your final grade from that nine-week period,
add the bay leaves, thyme, and pepper.

When you finally have the guts to talk to your crush,
add the salt.

When that crush breaks your heart,
remember to add the olive oil.

When the racist white kid says to the Latina girls sitting next to you,
“This is America, we speak English here,”

and the girls look him in the eyes and speak more Spanish
just to get on his nerves,

add the thinly sliced mushrooms.
When that same kid looks at you and says

he does like black people and you feel like choking him,
add the water.

When your “best friend” tells you it shouldn’t offend you,
look her deep in the eyes and say nothing—

just stare at her and add the chicken.
When your science teacher calls you worthless

and everyone in the class laughs,
smile at her and keep trying.

When you start to feel worthless, alone, and lost,
cry and add the oregano.

When you go to the dance and you sit alone on the floor
drinking Redpop, add the lemon juice.

When it’s the last day of school,
stir everything together.

When you walk across the graduation stage,
pour some of the soup into a bowl

and share it with your classmates.
When everyone leaves for their separate lives,

grab yourself a pack of crackers
and hang on to it for next year.