There was a 7:30am wake up call
a thirty minute drive to the store
and a two hour sift through cabbages
bean sprouts, mustard greens
bean curds, shrimps
and people who would have otherwise
looked me over

and on top of all that and the banquet
my mother later made fit for an empress,
there were the two skirts and the sweater
bought to keep my grandmother
warm and pretty

But which was all still
not enough to put a grin
on the old hag’s face

I didn’t know which was worse
the years of abuse I took
because of Chinese “custom”
or the sight of my mother’s face
falling off into her rice bowl
all because my grandmother wouldn’t
forgive her for her faulty punctuality

Perhaps maybe just a few choice words
would have sufficed
but to sit there indignantly
all throughout dinner just watching
the rest of us gobble down the shrimp cashew dish
the mustard green pork stew dish
the rice noodle vegetable dish
the soy sauce egg marinated dish
the veggie green garlic dish
and all the love it took that afternoon
to cook all those dishes (just for her)

My only choice words are Ai-yah!

the old woman was lucky
my mother never taught me the language
of our ancestors because my other half,
the fighting Irish in me
wanted to chew her out
for the contempt I saw
oozing off her own face
that Thursday evening 

my mother would then
later tell me
that my grandmother had also lost her face
in front of all her wheelchair friends
. . .because of our tardiness

which of course was of no wonder to me

because after I heard all that bullshit
I thought I saw my grandmother's lips
floating in the toilet.