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  • Thanksgiving at the Brewsters, and: First Duck, and: Edible Arrangement, and: Dead Buddha, and: Indigestion, and: Dogdom
  • Marilyn Chin (bio)

Thanksgiving at the Brewsters

Dear Mei Ling:

We don’t know how you became a self-righteous, left-wing vegan bigot so soon. At one week you spurned your mother’s milk. At two months, you spat out a mouthful of congee that had a hint of sardine oil in it. At one year, you declared your independence from all flesh. At two, you broke your brother’s nose for killing a cockroach, then invited an army of fire ants into your room and called them your sisters.

It’s bad enough that we have to endure your bad habits daily, but must we be embarrassed in front of others as well?

We’re used to your taking the shrimp out of the shrimp dumplings and eating only the skins. Picking off all the chicken pieces in the fried rice and feeding them to Mittens. But, we were shocked at your latest behavior (and mind you, we will report this to your developmental psychologist). Last Thursday at Grampy Brewster’s you covered the turkey with your napkin and said it looked like a burnt Baby Jesus!

Then, you stripped naked to your nappies, raised your milk bottle, and swore to avenge the vanished Wampanoags. I hope you’re satisfied now, young lady, for ruining a perfect family Thanksgiving!

Remember your holy-moly vegetarian auntie who lived near Vulture Peak and led a chaste life taking care of girl orphans?

Did she die of a spiritual old age? No! She was hit by a bus during a peace rally in Lhasa and died of a brain hemorrhage. [End Page 44]

First Duck

Mei Ling, your absence at Poetry Camp occasions this further news. A fat duck flew down to your plastic Hello Kitty play pool and stayed there quacking all week. I told your brother to drain the pool and shoo him away because we didn’t want duck poop all over the place, but he refused to fly away and insisted that he speak to the Matriarch of the house—that being me.

When I went out to scold him, he bragged that he was a royal descendant, the 105th incarnation of the Great First Duck of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth. He boasted that his ancestor was the first bird to be carved at the sumptuous high table and was enjoyed by the Great Chief Massasoit, his brilliant ambassador Squanto, and their excellencies the Governor William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish . . . and therefore he may land on any damn standing or flowing pool of water in North America that he pleased! That we should be honored, he had graced us with his presence in this faded laughable plastic pee-stained cesspool we called existence.

Cesspool this! I shouted back. Then, I grabbed him by his boastful scrawny neck and dragged him into the kitchen. Forthwith, I plucked his smelly feathers while listening to your brother practice the insufferable first bars of Ode to Joy on his piano over and over again for an hour. (Poor dear, he’s really lousy. Maybe we should rent him a violin.) Then, I carved up his majesty in the famous Wong family free-style three-way duck.

First I roasted him until his skin was dark brown and crispy, and flayed him perfectly so that the skin is paper thin: I served the first course as traditional Peking duck, with scallion spears, pancakes, and Hoisin sauce. Then, I sautéed the flesh in garlic and onions, half of which I diced with dried oysters and bamboo shoots and water chestnuts for lettuce cups . . . The other half I cut in strips with julienne carrots and wood ear presented with a [End Page 45] vinegar sauce as a tangy warm salad. With the carcass I made a delicious duck broth and froze two large cartons of it, your brother’s favorite, for duck noodle soup later in the week.

Dutiful us, we have enclosed a before-and-after portrait of Prince Mr. Braggadocio Duck, posed, according to Feng Shui ritual, with his split bill pointing...


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pp. 44-50
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