Letters from the Kitchen Pantry

I renounce rice when I am nine, the way one
            might renounce Barbie dolls, or multiplication
sheets, or vocabulary quizzes—unpretentious,
            without pomp. Baba continues to serve me braised

pork belly and tomatoes with egg, eyes soft like
            steamed gingered fish, never once picking at the
haggard bones of autumn: how I unearthed dead
            silkworms from the garden, or how I would not touch

the yolk of lotus seed cakes, or how I throttled
            every seditious beat until I transfigured into
symphony. I watch Mama carry jasmine rice
            from the cooker to the pan, see her add onions, eggs,

sausages, scallops, salt lightly glinting through
            the sheen of sesame oil. How much do I need
to carry home? I must hold my breath and pack
            these away: filtered light, cemetery ash, the emptiness

between characters that swell larger than their
            boxes can hold. Subtraction comes easier than
addition; that is the only truth I know. Mama
            shakes her head when I exit the kitchen, clicks her teeth.

Surely this story ends in absolution, a sobered family
            singing itself off the page, running across the
weathered cliff like a footnote or a seagull without wings.

Vivien Song is a high school junior from Pleasanton, California. When she’s not cramming for calculus, you can find her bullet journaling in a coffee shop. She hopes you’ve had a great day so far.

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