In loving memory of all my father’s brothers

 

The Uncles

Long tables covered in plates filled
with golden-brown noodles flecked
with pepper and green onion, rusty-red
crusted duck, silver-scaled fish
its eyes still staring, fragrant mound
of white rice releasing its steam
into the cacophony of all the aunties
and uncles shouting and laughing,
their faces shining, their chopsticks
darting like stork beaks. The snap
crack and soft fizz opening of warm
cans of 7-Up for all the cousins.
How I tried to keep a grip on the
slick ivory sticks in my own hand,
how the napkin in my lap grew
greasy with dropped noodles,
a shabby second plate. My uncles
always smiling, always nodding
and pointing at me, my plate,
and though I didn’t understand
their words, I knew what they
were saying—Eat! Eat!
More! More! Their generosity
leaving no one, not even
the smallest child trying to hide,
overlooked. Their love filling
my belly to bursting.

 

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