“An ABC Breakfast” by Annie Li

Annie Li (age 15)


ABC refers to American Born Chinese

In the motherland, in the morning, at six-thirty,
the sun is perpendicular to the barren ground
and I am reminded: over the years, how my maternal

and paternal grandparents politely fought
over where my sister and I would eat, and how we
ended up eating six meals a day. In their minds, they were

somehow making up for lost time, as we grew up
in the other hemisphere, as we awakened
with their hazy sunset, slept with their smoky sunrise.

Somehow, our receptiveness to their feeding
was their idea of the correct response of love. We eat a

feast of cratered moons for breakfast, as they
disappear from the Nanpi sky, hollow patches
atop the porridge’s gentle skin. The soft pumpkin, battered

and bruised, a refuge for tiny corn meal specks
that tickle my tongue with each spoonful. At the table, they
nudge the delicate bowls closer to us, telling us

to eat more, because we are too skinny,
and when you are too skinny, that is a sign of
poverty: you don’t have enough money to feed
your children adequately. We aren’t

poor, but our grandmas and grandpas
refuse to let their pride be tarnished by the neighborhood

gossips and so we thank them for their hospitality,
and go home, back to America, where we indulge
in greasy sausages and frozen waffles.

from 2018 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Annie Li: “I like to write poetry because it reminds me of the power of words and its ability to connect people together!”

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