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Dream kitchen

I saw my ancestor making omelettes // from leftover bits of shadow.
                                                                                                      ‘Year’s End’, Chen Chen

In my dream, I was sitting in my usual seat
at the round table in my grandmother’s kitchen.

Next to it, in the living room, a heavy wooden bench
where the sofa should have been, intricately carved

with flowers, inlaid with bright mother-of-pearl:
a partial repayment of a debt owed to my dead

grandfather. Also accepted: sandalwood sculptures
of eighteen luohan in glass cases, their faces detailed

and grotesque in eternal speechlessness. The crags
of the mountains where the immortals perched

were wet with our tears. We learned not only
of his death, but of our own fates: to become moths

hurling our small bodies over and over at backlit
doors which would never open for us. In my dream,

my grandmother was serving me boiled dumplings
in a rice bowl. I picked one up with chopsticks and bit

it in half. It was filled with words; they oozed across
blue-and-white porcelain. There were Chinese characters,

and letters from the English alphabet. I coughed up glitter
into a pink napkin; golden numerals spilled from the cloth

onto the tiled floor. I asked for some tea. My grandmother
reached into the wicker basket, and lifted out a grey rock

with a spout and a handle. Little red fish swam in my cup,
but when I raised it to my lips, they turned into yellow

starfish that unfurled like suns. I knew it was only a dream,
because I was in my bed, alone. I was far from her, and home.

 

 

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Eileen Chong is an Australian poet. She is the author of eight books. Her next collection of poetry, A Thousand Crimson Blooms is forthcoming from UQP in April 2021. She lives and works on unceded Gadigal land of the Eora Nation. www.eileenchong.com.au

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