April 23, 2018

Elizabeth T. Chao

QÍ PÁO

                The
               neck
       of my mother’s
   qí páo is too small for
 me, delicate silk fists too
  weak to punch its way
   around my thick pipes
    and clasp in a fixing
        embrace. The
          waist of my
       grandmother’s
   qí páo was too nar
  row for even my twelve-
 year-old paunch. By then
my gluttony for all things
sweet and forbidden had
 corroded and cracked the
   tiny straight teeth of its
    zipper.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017
Tribute to Immigrant Poets

__________

Elizabeth T. Chao: “My family moved from Taiwan to Texas when I was seven. I was in first grade, and I wore a navy-blue uniform that had the three characters of my name embroidered just above the left breast pocket. In America, I wore jeans, t-shirts, and purple shoes to school. In America, the three characters of my name lived in a distant drawer and smelled funny. In America, I learned to dump my leftovers into a big trashcan and feel free to go get more.”

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