Stone Telling

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Rice Cooker Dreams

by Emily Jiang

Carbs will be the death of us
so says Atkins
and I, Penelope Chang.

no wheat, no rice, no
breads, no cakes! no rice,
not even the lotus seed special
from Mama Sang’s bakery.

lotus, no lotus, lotus, no lotus

I twine my legs into position,
breathe a slow, longing kiss farewell…
back curves like a lotus root hair
unwashed, uncooked, uneaten--this diet
reduces me to a blossoming lotus,
unfurling pointy petals outward to catch
rebirth-enlightenment energy
funneling into my carb-free, sugar-free
Angry Little Asian Girl body.
I am ALAG, hear me--

no bagels, no rice, no
udon, no flour, no pork buns!
no rice, not even
the moon cakes (so sweet)
from Mama Sang’s bakery.

I wane from lack of lush carbs,
my stomach a sheer sliver
of glowing moon sickle.
I stretch for the sky,
feeling empty,
my body a

O, gods of low carbs,
I, Penelope Chang, salute you,
echoes of Prufrock
moaning in the no’s.

Emily Jiang has dared to eat a peach, a tarantula, a barracuda, amok, a lotus seed, and a dragonfruit, all within the past few months. She also hates saying "no" but has learned "no" can be a good word. Most recently, she is delighted to discover one of her poems placed Fourth for Best Poem in Strange Horizons' 2010 readers' poll. She loves to bake (as many of her Clarion classmates and fellow Clarion alums have witnessed) and sometimes tinkers with gluten-free and/or vegan recipes for her friends. She occasionally posts the tasty versions on her blog:

Read Emily's discussion of this poem over at the Roundtable!

Photography: Cakes, by Ross Pollack, Hong Kong.