Poetry / September 2014 (Issue 25)

Two Poems

by Nancy Lynée Woo


Half of me was meant to eat weird things.

Innards and gizzards.
Bony fish heads.
Chicken feet.
Fat globules
floating in broth.

One lover's appetite taught me
how to savor the food.
He lived far and did not visit often.

Tiny strings of mushroom.
Long, slimy noodles.
Half-formed quail egg.
Pig ear.
Chicken heart.

He showed me how he had laid claim
to an alien dinner table—where he
had staked his flags years before.

Crunchy coconut “snack.”
Seaweed salad.
Pickled beets.
Bok choy
crackling in garlic.

I had always wanted to love fried rice
without shame. So I cooked it,
loved it, learned how to.

This was my food. This was our strange
sweet-mango-red-bean romance.
Half-laughing, half-leaving
half-eaten things on the mirrors
of our plates.

I didn’t realize before
the splendor of my intestines.
How we eat from the region of the stomach
that can adapt to anything.

This one part of me does not have to think
about where it belongs, or what belongs to it.

We just stir wooden sticks in
the bowl of the present
and swallow our halfness whole,
guzzling it down
throwing it back
open mouths watering.

It is curious, insatiable, and wide, this hunger—
simmering on the burners is my past
steaming out an ancient musk
as I’m left
craving more of this
must-have, must-eat, must-cook


Science says that the memory of our ancestors
may be passed down through genes.

That mice electrocuted to fear the scent of cherry blossoms
have offspring who also fear cherry blossoms.

My grandfather had a red beard.
Never knew his mother.

His mother.
Spat him out and gave him away.
Or they took him away,
no one is sure.

Whether she may have grown
to love him or not.

Lost in the backwards of time,
the rape never recorded.

Must have been about
a century ago, around 1915
in some small village eastward from here.

The men, taught to conquer.
Conquistadors we called them.
Their glory, our wombs.

Why I cringe when a man much larger than me
scowls, perhaps my DNA remembers
the bittersweet scent of cherry
blossoms wilting.
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