angry poetry corner: "new words" by mike wong

We're getting poetic up here. It's time for another installment of Angry Poetry Corner, a regular weekly spotlight on the work of API poets -- not necessarily angry -- curated by Cara, our Angry Asian Intern. Because you could use a little more poetry in your life.

In the corner this week, a poem by Mike Wong, chosen from our recent open call:
New Words

It’s dinnertime. The small child
peers into the steamy clear soup
and wonders what swims in her bowl.
The father replies by drawing a series of strokes
in the air as if the characters
would appear, drawn from a pen in his mind.

It never enters his mind
that his endemic child
would not be able to see the characters
describing the mysterious soup,
nor understand the nature of the strokes
which together tell a story of the edibles in her bowl.

He reaches into his own bowl
and reaches into his mind
to a time when he learned the strokes
so unintelligible to his child.
As he feels the hot soup
warming his body, the characters

in the air dissolve. These characters,
contained in the bowl,
represent the ingredients in the soup
They appear as words in his mind
and he realizes that his child
may never see the significance of these strokes

unless these invisible strokes
were learned. Just as his own father taught these characters
to his native-born child
so must he take what is in the bowl
and in his mind
and make more of the words than just a tasty soup.

As the father lowers the steaming soup
from his lips, all the strokes
making up the words in his mind
reform into characters
consisting of more than what was in the bowl
all of which he must show to his child.

"Finish your soup and put away your bowl, I have some characters I want to show you." As the child sits by her father and watches, the strokes flow out of a mind and onto a page.
Mike Wong is a single dad who loves to cook. He raises and cooks with 2 kids in the SF Bay Area.

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