Morning Ritual

Morning Ritual

Before the pork buns steamed in the pot,
moisture in their white folds, before
the dried tofu was trimmed into thin strips,

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Before the pork buns steamed in the pot,
moisture in their white folds, before
the dried tofu was trimmed into thin strips,
my father raked long grain rice out of the mesh bag,

stirred it on the stove to get the texture right.
He filled a bowl with porridge, sprinkled dried pork shreds
and salted peanuts into a heap on top. Each morning
my father told me to bring the bowl upstairs.

My grandmother listened for my feet grazing
the carpet. She reclined on her bed
with the blue hydrangea pattern I wanted.
I handed her the tray, glanced at the expanding

brown thatch that coated her face.
She said something in Taiwanese; I ignored her.
My father said porridge, peanuts, pork, were her favorite.
He never added cashews or cucumbers. Day after

day, he rubbed the wooden Buddha’s head, told me
not to wear white in my hair, not to leave chopsticks vertical
in a bowl of rice; I did it anyway. I counted the days, one by one,
like the raisins I stole from the box on her bedside table.

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