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Alyss

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Dinuguan, or In Honor of the Writer from New York Who Longs for Simpler Asian Food

Lola,

Forgive me for the times I scrunched my nose
at the pungency of what you called chocolate meat,
the offal cooked in pork blood, that saccharine
name meant to make pretty this ugly food, which
is neither white nor slips easily over the tongue.
This stew slopped brown in chipped porcelain bowls
on nights when there were no
strangers to say, in those half-polite,
half-strangled tones, how exotic.

Lola,

Forgive me for the ways in which I have yet to
unlearn this schoolyard shame, the infinite
times I refused our food in brown paper sacks, the
times I choked on WonderBread, on fluorescent
cheese, on limp potatoes, hoping to bury
that bite that reminded me of home.

Lola,

I promise you that someday, I will
bring this ugly stew, our guts splashed over white rice,
to the wrinkled children of the ones
who sailed their pale ships into Manila Bay,
who gum on buttered noodles and saltless greens.
When I crack open that Tupperware, I will
make them all smell the reek of our vinegar,
the stench of our garlic, the copper
stink of our spilled blood.

Anna Cabe