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

 

America the Delicious

At a Thai restaurant in Kowloon,

I’m waiting for my green curry and duck

when my aunt asks me about American food,

and I’m looking down on this view—

the Times Square of Asia, wondering why, oh dear,

Auntie, why do you want to know

about American food when you live in Asia,

the food continent of the world,

and I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, goddamn

Marco Polo stole our noodles,

passing them off as spaghetti, and I know it’s all

a myth, but don’t steal my food,

don’t steal my dumplings, don’t steal my spring rolls

rolled by my father, who used to

make miniature ones for our beloved Buzzie,

and in Kowloon, my green curry and duck

comes, and I’m already ready for dessert,

because there’s nothing better in life than eating,

other than kissing all night long and coconut

coconut coconut, the mango sticky rice comes

in purple and the Woon Bai Toey, and I wonder:

Just what is so sweet about America: America

the Delicious, America of the hot dogs drizzled

in ketchup and mustard, not fancy Dijon,

only classic and yellow, classic and yellow, throw in

grilled onions and a pickle, and some

days I’m really craving a large pickle in my mouth,

sour and suck, sour and suck, followed by a large

bowl of rice, but who am I kidding, as a grown ass

woman, my father still scolds me for not finishing

the whole bowl, because I’m not a good little

Chinese girl, and I know that combination’s odd,

but you’ve got to admit that deep frying everything

at the fair is on a whole other level of aliens

landing, getting confused level of weird, and I try

explaining deep-fried butter to my aunt,

or what deep-fried Oreos or deep-fried cookie dough

or deep-fried bubblegum or deep-fried

Twinkies, aren’t you ever the most adorable thing,

and my aunt wants to know more, she wants

to taste the craze: the cereal on donuts,

the cheesecakes dipped in blue raspberry

chocolate, the chicken and waffles, chicken

and waffles and edible flowers and ketchup

chips and cupcakes and don’t you ever stop

by the cake section of your grocery store and just

want to lick an entire bowl of blue icing,

because life is too short, and I really could use another

Thai iced tea as Kowloon kids are lining

up for gai daan jai, the Chinese egg waffles,

the Queen of Hong Kong street food, and an ocean

away, New Yorkers are lining up for the same

waffles but with sprinkles and Fruity Pebbles

and Pocky and marshmallows, and that’s a little

too much, and America, you’re delicious,

but stop tainting my Hong Kong street food—

stop tainting that legendary mile-long line waiting

for their gai daan jai and fish balls and my cousin

goes crazy over that curry and curry

squid and octopus tentacles and fried pig intestines

and egg tarts and siu mai, and oh,

Hong Kong, you cutie, you’re delicious—

don’t you ever change, and yes, I’ll take

a couple fish balls on a skewer to go.

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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