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Three Generations of Chinese Women Make Dumplings in a Chicago One-Bedroom

Updated: 4 days ago

Lao Lao stands in her kitchen, pressing edges

of dough into crescents, pork & cabbage &

spring onion tucked in to rest under a kneaded roof.

Mother prepares the wok, sliding sesame oil

across the surface until popping bubbles

start harmonizing with the constant whine

of a box fan.

Too little oil, Lao Lao says, Put too little oil,

the dumplings will burn.

Elsewhere, Zhenjiang newscasters bicker

about Sichuan, about the Kuomintang, accent

as biting as an orange slice striking the back

of your tongue. Elsewhere, Mother’s daughter

stares at characters printed on a stack of sun-yellowed

pages, each word as foreign as the province where mother

built herself into a woman.

Xía Lan needs to learn Chinese, Lao Lao says, You don’t

speak Chinese to her at home?

Mother places her knife on the pile of dirtied