Triple Sonnet for Corn Soup

Dorothy Chan

My friend Rita jokes that all Asians love corn,

          and I wonder if there’s ever been a study

conducted, a correlation the way five-star

          restaurants in Hong Kong always begin meals

with corn soup then oysters then steak and lobster,

          and why, oh why, do we keep aiming for western

civilization like it’s the height of all sophistication,

          and keep your surf and turf, because my lobster

needs a little ginger, a little garlic and soy sauce,

          and look at this Cantonese corn soup right in front

of us, ready to be devoured in its egg-droppy

          goodness, and hello, I’m reminded of childhood

summer mornings of my mother cooking this soup

          that’s been in our family for centuries and centuries —

          Take chicken stock and eggs and half a teaspoon

of sesame oil and salt and pepper, and oh,

          creamed corn, and taste the most delicious

soup in the world that my mother remembers

          from her childhood of Grandpa coming home

with knockoff watches and dolls with glass eyes

          after work overseas, and how he’d start cooking,

while my mother and her sisters and brother

          played with these life-size dolls in an apartment

in Kowloon the size of a rich person’s

          walk-in closet, and that right there was all

the happiness in the world, of a home-cooked meal,

          of clouds of egg whites my mother tasted

light and fluffy in this mixture of corn,

and when I was a baby, the only mush I’d eat

          was carrot or corn flavored, spitting out anything

else or giving stank face to my parents,

          and when I was four, in Kowloon, Grandpa

picked me up from school, took me shopping,

          buying me corn-flavored puff munchies,

while we looked at snowman paintings

          and toy turtle aquariums, and a fishing game —

sink the rod, capture the rainbow fish,

          and oh, how Grandpa bought me everything,

then off to the grocery store we went

          for creamed corn — at checkout, me eating

snowball-shaped mochi ice cream, and no,

          I wasn’t too full for the greatest soup in the world.


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