top of page

I Eat a Word

Karen Zheng

I Eat a Word
a poem by Karen Zheng

I come home to apples

with a word on them.

Mother slices it

in half.

She hands me the word-part--


I eat the word,


slowly biting the juicy radical,

swallowing smoothly,

but choking on the dry


Mother nods, knowing I



my mouth

the way she does,

so she lightly pats my back.

She silently crunches through her half,

bruised insides,


words stuck in between

each hollow crevice.

I take a breath, hastily dive into

crispy firm skin, juicy young flesh,

leaving me,


and her,


fu: 福, meaning prosperity, good-fortune, blessing

The inspiration for this piece came from an apple in Karen Zheng's house that was stamped with the word: 福. From that, Karen explores the language barriers between her and her mother, morphing it with the act of ingesting the word.

bottom of page