I Eat a Word

I come home to apples

with a word on them.

Mother slices it

in half.

She hands me the word-part--

fu.

I eat the word,

whole,

slowly biting the juicy radical,

swallowing smoothly,


but choking on the dry

phonetic.

Mother nods, knowing I

can’t

move

my mouth

the way she does,

so she lightly pats my back.


She silently crunches through her half,

bruised insides,

wordless

words stuck in between

each hollow crevice.


I take a breath, hastily dive into

crispy firm skin, juicy young flesh,


leaving me,

full

and her,

empty.

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.