Drench in the stench of fish sauce.
I lay face-down, lost
in pillows of wide rice noodles.
Wrap, like pigs in a blanket,
with chili flakes and peppered-spice,
and everything’s nice with a sweet
kiss of coconut
milk to balance my sanity.
Apple eggplants and Idaho potatoes dice and
slice like my identity,
a half-pile boil then simmer till soft enough to beat,
the other half-pile is deep-fried — skin, feet, and all.
Fingerroots like my Cambodian root.
Scrape the yellowish-brown off the skin before
finely chop—stick close to the surface because
the flesh is less appealing.
Add 4 strings of snake beans
because fuck it, why not?
Go for green, unblemished pods
without any matured beans.
And I was an immature bean
oblivious to the difference
between my dark skin and insecurity.
A facepalm of palm sugar to cover
the wound and family scars.
Use thighs or breasts
from field-raised chickens,
slice into bite-size pieces of
my mother’s dream.
Two teaspoons of shrimp and red pepper paste to spice up
my socially awkward life,
blend with a side of fermented fish paste to explore my cultural roots.
Add a pinch of salt to ward off the inherent bitterness
of being one and none.
Throw everything in a pot and let it simmer;
watch as people ask,
“Is it ramen?” “Is it pho?”