A Red and Gold Salad

新年快乐 the lanterns shined, repeatedly battered

by the bitter wind of a foreign land. They sing

in disharmonized colors, English tearing their voices into

tattered silks. Of radios crackling Christmas songs

in an alien language, amidst the sizzling of dumplings on pans, the frying

of our skin in the eyes of this country. Let her stride crush us

into the ingredients of a melting pot, stirring variegation into a single value.

In one ear and out the other, we taste an unknown dialect

amidst spoken characters under the branch of a Ginkgo.

We reunite another year under the leaves of a fake tree because the real one

would suffocate itself in this barren land of color. 3 pairs of chopsticks lie untouched

on the wooden table Mama and baba order:

饺子 and 炒饭 she says by heart. And a salad, I added

after a long comb of the menu. The waitress gingerly pulled a fork

from behind the counter, setting it on the table in front of me.

We sit in the same seats, spooning silence into our mouths.

A language of eating in feasts of red and gold, forgotten and coated

with new wallpaper, buried under the dried masks of this neighborhood, each whiff

escaping from the wooden windows to be disintegrated

by the blizzard.

One 饺子 and 炒饭 and a salad, the waitress said, lowering our food from the platter.

As I expected a simple salad of green, a rainbow of red and gold

stared back at me, embellished with what was my embarrassment.

_____ ____ ___ __ _


新年快乐: Happy New Year

饺子: dumplings

炒饭: fried rice

December 2021 Prize Winner!

This poem won the Poetry Prompt Prize for December 2021. It is inspired by
Evelyn Lau
’s writing prompt “Peel the Onion”.

Using the sensory language of food, Maggie Yang deftly confronts the white washing of culture and an inner conflict that often joins one’s reflections as a child of a diaspora.

— Therese Estacion, 2022 Voices/Voix Journal Editor

Maggie Yang

Grade: 10 / Sec. IV
York House School
Vancouver, BC

“<p> Exploring the idea of food from a different perspective, other than a factor for survival inspired me to write this poem. I found our relationships with food in conjunction with other aspects of our life such as heritage really intriguing, especially how it can be a bonding or snapping point for various connections.</p> ”

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