My father recounts his childhood mischief

by Sophia Jih

When I slip my grades, blunder fingers

through an audition, refuse to gather my tongue,

my father sits me in the library, self-important:


Between study and study

and study, he was expected

to uphold ancestry’s honor, clean his

family’s worn apartment, patch

the gaps between its teeth. One day, they could not

afford tincan noodles. Starving,


he stole a fistful of grains, tricked

a chicken from its stingy owner,

strangled it.


Through various repeats, I still

do not know how the art of pheasant-murder

transmutes to chemistry. Instead, I nod dutifully, think how

simple for my father to sacrifice rice for meats, wonder

if he will as easily dissolve love

for approval.