504: What the Kids in Subtle Asian Traits Know

504: What the Kids in Subtle Asian Traits Know

504: What the Kids in Subtle Asian Traits Know

What the Kids In Subtle Asian Traits Know 
by Jennifer G. Lai

Read the automated transcript.

is that cut up fruit is the ultimate Asian 
parent gesture of love.

there are posts like:

           TFW your mom cuts fruit 
           when you're up late at night 
           and you see her eating the leftover bits
           around the core, before putting the nicely
           cut apple slices in a bowl to bring to you 

           if ur mum doesn’t randomly bring u 
           cut up fruit is she even ur mum

           one meme in two frames—
           in the first, a man reads a book, 
           and you can only see the cover:
           Asian Parents’ Guide to Apologizing

           in the second, the inside 
           of the book. the response: 
           come eat  

now that I am older, I need
to get the translation right.

no — there were never any sorrys 
just cold plates of nectarines, 
bright pomelo, ice-raw starfruit, 
fragrant lychee. sweet ya li pears, 
without their papery brown skins, 

at Jing Fong, at Sam Woo, 
at Mei Sum, at Garden,
the restaurants do this, too. 
tonight, the apron-splattered man 
with grandfather hair, carries a
chipped plate to the register.
the server counts the other table’s change,
but jokes with me: crowded enough for you,
ah neoi?  

           neoi could mean girl or woman
           but it also means daughter. 
           I have spent years making sure. 

he places the oranges on my table. 

they do this for all the customers,
but oh, what a glitch in the matrix 
tonight. my mother saw me alone
with my empty bowl and splintered face 
on a Wednesday, and she is here.
I know there is a math that measures time,
but what about a math that accounts
for logic? how should I explain the strangers 
who will bring me fruit after she is gone? 

it has been 31 years of my mother
bringing me cut up fruit without 
even saying anything. 

sometimes she would put 
the fruit directly into my mouth. 

tonight, I will eat all of the orange,
sweet or not. I will go home, 
I will call her. I will buy an apple, 
and cut it for myself.  

all she ever wanted
was for me to hurry, finish 
before it got brown, 	no worries 
if she did not get a taste.

"What the Kids in Subtle Asian Traits Know" by Jennifer G. Lai. Used by permission of the poet. Originally published in ANOMALY.