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 me baiser?
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.

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