Year of the Rat
By Nicole Lee
 

I.

The Bill

 

Five pax

Belly pork hotpot

Dan dan meen

Cold dish jelly fish

Beef tongue pork lung

Bitter gourd steamed rice

Pu er tea

Orange segments towelettes

Xie xie ni

Service not included

II.

 

Translator’s Note

 

Five pax only five

Gan bei to the ones

who should be here

parents siblings all the

tiny ancestors wrong-ended

in the spyglass of the year

 

Belly pork

neat as dominoes

black as treacle

packed on a sludgebed 

of salted mustard

For prosperity

 

Dan dan noodles

coiled in hot sauce

pre-take off at

Chek Lap Kok

a lifetime ago

Long life to us all!

 

Yu sheng

Chopsticks in

For abundance

Beef tongue pork lung

Kong hei fat choi

For profit oi

 

 

Fu gua

A year of bitterness

Rice and tea

We are Chinese

Oranges

For luck

 

Thank you come again

and we spill out into the pedestrian precinct

and the cold foreign air

and buy taiyaki custard fish

and eat them out of the paper bag

on the Northern Line platform