Daughter’s Father

the man who’s once abundant
of siblings and Danang farmland
wept on truck to boat
of thousand war refugees.

the man who’s chef and airplane mechanic
trained in Hong Kong
takes our orders of instant ramen and
Mayo-lathered egg bagels.

the man who earned Driver’s License
a week after arriving in Lincoln Heights
saves us from thirty minute walk home
on his Wednesday day offs.

the man who works from five to five
at 99 Ranch Market since May 29, 1999
sleeps on bamboo mat in our room
and trampled awake by youngest daughter.

the man who gave away his house
after his first divorce and never buys any luxury
gives us Andrew Jacksons
when we ask for Abraham Lincolns.

the man who strangers stop for polite conversations
and neighborhood gossip
sings the alphabet to youngest daughter
who is still potty training in middle school.

the man who sits silently on the same chair
with the same channel or same newspaper
silences volcanoes and tornadoes
that do not obey orders.

the man who sips three 1500 mL water bottles
and Carlo Rossi merlot everyday
blends smoothies of fruit and peanut butter
for us while we study past sunset.

the man who walks ten thousand steps
in third floor apartment under quarantine
sings Cantonese lullabies over phone
and offers to cut durian whenever I come home.

daughters’ mother
the lady who’s abandoned to the cinders
until relatives demanded her money or labor
fled on a crowded boat
to obtain the American dream at eighteen.

the lady who could not attend school
in her hometown Ningde
learned Cantonese
from rented Hong Kong VR tapes.

the lady who green card married
another refugee working marketplace
runs away to Las Vegas or with whoever men
buys her heart with Chanel or dine in.

the lady who rations her food stamps
with fistfuls of watercress and pork belly
store seven Costco-size extra virgin olive oil
under dinner table used thrice a year for hot pot.

the lady who attends annual Christmas party
for survivors of domestic abuse
says her boyfriend will stop funding me
if I do not break up with my boyfriend.

the lady who bore last daughter ill
weeped when God’s people looked away
spends quarantine hours on phone
or counting dragonfruit in balcony garden.

the lady who shredded memories of first boyfriend
for disappearing to Taiwan
threatened to kill oldest daughter
if she shared the photos she should not have found.

the lady who chase us
with fistfuls of chopsticks and 85 decibels
drives 108 miles
to fill my shelves with groceries.

the lady who eats out often with her daughters
and men who pay the bill but exiled from photos
spends hours cooking garlicky lobster
and fried rice when I come home.

Written by Celine Pun – Santa Barbara, California, United States

Feature Photo by Max Ostrozhinsky


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