Poem – Fortune Cookies

Fortune Cookies

My father speaks
before the family at the dinner table.
     [My mother provides the translations.]

Upon birth
I cried, coming out headfirst.
“Happy days are just over the mountaintop.
          The struggle has ended.”

She brings countless plates;
     frisbees with food for my American friends.
He eyes them and grins.
(Chew.  Don’t choke.
          Moderation is key.)

His face is flushed; blushing
     from the cognac.
A request.
Do we have any rice wine?
He smiles.
          “Soon, a lifelong friend shall be made.”

Katie wants a platinum ring with diamonds,
 not gold bars and a beheaded chicken.
“You have a strong desire.
          But wait, family interests come first.”

Je t’aime, mais j’adore mon père.
Oui, je comprend...
 mais, voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
It’s a romance language.
          (Fuck you!)  Aix meih!

In the foothills,
     the sun shines on the priest.
I do.
“Faulty confessions—
          are next to innocence.”
Yie mv hiuv.

During the holidays,
     our waists become thicker,
          the air becomes thinner.
“Hire a blonde secretary,” he says.

We eat Vietnamese take-out,
     splattering oyster sauce over the contracts.
She wears glossy lipstick,
          on her neck, a crucifix.

Katie sponges my father’s back
and lights sandalwood incense at night,
     burning my nasal cavity.
He whispers, “Your wisest counselor is you.”

Mother’s sobbing
     sounds like laughter
          when she forgets a word.
Katie holds her hand,
they stare through the silent crowd across the room:
          an uninvited stranger
                                            needs to be fed.


2 responses to “Poem – Fortune Cookies

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