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Chang, Iris, Fried Rice


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 
my pillows,
which isn’t your fault,
but I think that 

distancing myself



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