Salty chips, the vinegar and black
pepper kind. A plate of rice
topped with curled leaves of dried
fish flash-fried in the pan.
(Who cares how long the smell
clings to the furniture and drapes?)
Steamed kai-lan drizzled with chili
oil, pucker of a pickled plum;
the odd marriage of the green
and bitter gourd with sugar
to set the teeth on edge—
My tongue tumbles from one
small station of desire
to the next. Piquant, bitter,
savory, hot: wanting all, taking
all in to feed the gut
that’s always looking to find
the ferment, ever since the first
time it learned about the sweet.

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