The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Revenge of the Asian Woman by Dorothy Chan

 

Ode for Baby Pandas, Hong Kong Mornings, and My Grandmother

 

The one English word my grandmother knows is beautiful—

Beautiful, like pandas knocking over buckets of leaves

in Sichuan, over and over again, and their nanny moves them

to a corner, their adoring fans waiting with cameras,

and if I won a million dollars, I’d fly across the ocean

in a heartbeat just to hug them, just to give them cardboard

to rip, just to see them trot along on their merry way,

ready to cause more destruction, ready to knock over

more buckets of leaves, and it’s beautiful, and speaking of cute,

I’d take a date with baby pandas over a date

with the celebrity dreamboat of my fantasies any day,

even if said date included a view of Tokyo Tower

and raw oysters and every caviar imaginable and the best lobster

in the world and a nice serving of uni and a little Cioppino

and pistachio gelato and some French fries with sweet ketchup

on the side, and Do you want to go out for a steak

later? I’d like it nice and rare, nice and rare, and that’s everything

I want, but I want the pandas more, and it’s beautiful

the way the panda expert on television declares that pandas

are beautiful because they remind us of our own children,

and I’m jealous of travel show hosts who get to cuddle them,

because I think about their black and white goodness,

like black and white cookies or Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes

with their oh so twee vanilla spirals, reminding me

of cute girls wearing cute blouses with black ribbons,

and I’m not pure enough to pull that off, but I appreciate

the effort, ladies—beautiful—and what about blackout cake

or white truffles or my favorite Hong Kong drink of all time,

the yuenyeung, the yin yang, the divine East Asian morning

concoction of three parts coffee and seven parts milk tea,

and it’s eight, not seven that’s the lucky number in Chinese

culture, but that’s beside the point, because this drink is

beautiful, beautiful with a Hong Kong breakfast of noodles

and ham in broth or what about condensed milk on toast,

a side of Asian sausage, or what about plain and simple

congee—what a beautiful morning, and oh, my grandmother’s

so beautiful, and it’s beautiful how beautiful is the only word

she knows in the English language, and I love how she loves

girls wearing double buns because they remind her of pandas

and I think it’s beautiful how the Scottish Fold next door

makes her smile like she’s a kid again, and she wants

to let him in, but I’m allergic, but oh that smile—beautiful,

like my first memory with her, making cookies in the shape

of camels, and if I won a million dollars,

I’d fly across the ocean, take my grandmother with me

to play with pandas in Sichuan, order her a bowl of noodles

with lots of beef and tripe, and oh, do you see those baby pandas

knocking over those buckets of leaves—beautiful.

This selection comes from Dorothy Chan’s full-length book, Revenge of the Asian Woman, available from Diode Editions.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Danielle Hanson.

Dorothy Chan is the author of Attack of the Fiy-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018) and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Academy of American Poets, e Cincinnati Review, e Common, Diode Poetry Journal, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Chan is the Editor of e Southeast Review and Poetry Editor of Hobart.

Danielle Hanson is the author of Fraying Edge of Sky (Codhill Press Poetry Prize, 2018) and Ambushing Water (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017).  Her work has appeared in over 70 journals, won the Vi Gale Award from Hubbub, was Finalist for 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Award and was nominated for several Pushcarts and Best of the Nets.  She is Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books, and is on the staff of the Atlanta Review. Her poetry has been the basis for visual art included in the exhibit EVERLASTING BLOOM at the Hambidge Center Art Gallery, and Haunting the Wrong House, a puppet show at the Center for Puppetry Arts. More about her at daniellejhanson.com.

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