My father used to pick baby bok choy sprouts and place them in my
bowl. I don’t remember exactly when he stopped, but I miss those
dinners when grown-ups would fight to pay—sometimes pretending
to go to the bathroom but really grabbing the check. We would
choke down our food to get seconds though there was always plenty.
Slurping and clanking took place of conversation until the table
was left a wreck. My father and I would share what we called the
best parts of the fish—the cheeks and neck—and suck the meat from
the bones. He would cut a spoonful, place sweet-brothed ginger and
scallions atop, and tell me, Chew slowly and feel what you are eating.
Once, I realized a bone was stuck in my throat. The skeleton clawed
my speech—why didn’t I listen? My brother fed me vinegar-doused
rice. I took it, swallowed every bite and bit through acid nausea,
and gradually, from my throat it dissolved further, within, without
From Return Flight by Jennifer Huang (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2022). Copyright © 2022 by Jennifer Huang. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org