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Chang, Iris, Fried Rice

CHANG, IRIS

Iris Chang
Age: 16, Grade: 11

School Name: Dominican Academy, New York, NY
Educator: Susan Tzeng

Category: Poetry

Fried Rice

I love the feeling of steam that
erupts from the ever-so-important landing of a delicately laid egg on
                                                                                                  a pile of rice 
which warms 
my face and
my heart.
I love the savory wafts that f l o a t up
                                                       my nostrils and 
                                                             soothe my cranky brain. 
I love you fried rice, my friend when I’m in need.

But I did stop loving you for a while.

When I sat at a new table 
in a new cafeteria 
in a new school 
I saw what they were eating and felt different. 
I tried to hide you. 

I quickly twisted the lid of my thermos shut 
and shoved you back into the lunch box 
in exchange for apples and pretzels.
I asked mom to make sandwiches and pastas.
I only ate you in the dim light of the kitchen counter at home, feeling oddly guilty. 

And at night,
bitter, fat wet drops 
fall 
on 
my pillows,
which isn’t your fault,
but I think that 

distancing myself

        from 

you 

might help me make friends. 
You were just one of the many things that did not fit in this new place.

For many years, I ignored you in public and cherished you at home. 
And for that, I’m so sorry.

Two years later, 
In a brand new city 
In a brand new school
I saw you in other people’s lunches. I was surprised and ashamed. 
So I asked mom to pack you in my lunchbox.

I reunited with you the next day.

I love you, fried rice, 
and the comfort you give me when I feel miles
away 

from

everyone.