Pinky Swears and Kitchen Chairs
Jessica Mehta
  We were sure we wouldn’t live to thirty, to hell
  with whether we wanted to or not. Rosalind hung
  herself a week after her brother wove
  his own noose. Two Catholic funerals
  in two weeks was more suffocating
  than the sick collecting
  above their kicked-out chairs. We all
  would have been twenty-eight,
  but Sheri left a decade before, spine snapped
  underneath a four-wheeler in a plowed
  down field. She should have been in seventh
  period with us, but you know how kids are.
  The day I turned thirty, I jumped from a groaning bridge
  somewhere deep
  in the jungles of Central America. Village children
  clung to the edge with bugged eyes,
  flurries of Spanish showered their lips. Somewhere
  between feeling nothing
  beneath my feet and mouthfuls of regrets,
  I knew the cord would snap.
  And when it didn’t,
  I was swarmed with the stinging knowing
  that I had been forgotten even by death
  and probably for decades.

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, born and raised in Oregon and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is the author of 13 books including eight collections of poetry, four novels, and one non-fiction book. She’s received several writer-in-residency posts around the world, including the Hosking Houses Trust with an appointment at The Shakespeare Birthplace (Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK), Paris Lit Up (Paris, France), the Women’s International Study Center (WISC) Acequia Madre House post (Santa Fe, NM), the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE), and a Writer in the Schools (WITS) residency at Literary Arts (Portland, OR).