“Among the Baby Bok Choy” by Jeanne Yu

Jeanne Yu


for my dad, Yu Tseh-An

My dad loves the grocery store.
He wanders the aisles in absolute amazement 
at what can be done with food
and fully embraces the concept of Stop and Shop.
My mom latches on to the concept 
of running errands which is me jogging in 
while she waits behind the wheel of her Mercury Bobcat 
ready to pull out in the getaway car.
Ahhh, the produce department, my dad’s favorite, 
his concentration in the misted spray as he sorts out
all the possibilities of Chinese greens for dinner 
this would be good with soup, yeah?
Smelling the roots, pushing on their tender heels,
the scratching sound of the garlic sleeves as he makes his pick, 
Napa cabbage, A-choy and a puzzled look at a fennel bulb 
with a long stalk that he says smells like anise.
Eventually, he finds his way into meats and dry goods,
reading labels, taking in the dextrose, xanthan gum, Yellow No. 5, Red 40
referencing it against his 40 years in the food industry 
what’s this mean? contains a bioengineered food ingredient.
When I acquired an allergy to yeast, he said, 
how can you be allergic to yeast? I’m not and your mom’s not.
Rather than show him the privacy of my rashes in Aisle 16,
I decided it was best to move on to dairy.
My mom tells us that Barbara T. called her yesterday
to tell her about Asians being shot in the grocery store, 
my mom, finally with a winning point to rush my dad along, 
he retorts you can’t change fate or be afraid.
We queue up at checkout,
and my dad wanders off 
but we know where to find him.

from Rattle #78, Winter 2022


Jeanne Yu: “I write to make sense of life in this world … and to make sure I am paying attention to the little things that matter as well as the big things, because I have come to know they are all connected. I’m an engineer, mom, and environmentalist, every day trying my best—some days are harder than others—to live from a place of my hope for the world.”

Rattle Logo