I Imagine a Friend Asks me How to Prepare Rice

By: Chan Krisna
Before a poem, this was a request, from a friend, about how to prepare rice. Somehow, I believe a trauma experienced will echo on for seven generations afterwards. Of those who survived on and through rice before me, and of myself, who is learning to live as they did and do. How, why, and what else is there?  
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

I Imagine a Friend Asks me How to Prepare Rice 

 

. . . first cycle like so, 

a current into the water. 

Grab at it. Still dense 

rice sinks to the bottom

of your vessel. Cup some still, 

rice in your palm. Press it. 

You soften the body 

of the rice, allow owed 

soft to nest in rice, 

inside your palm—

 

                                 —and please—

                                                             —try to sigh while you press— 

 

We must remember there is space &

this is the time we must steal 

for us— 

 

We must be so firm in love 

Pha says, as if something 

cleanses as it smothers;

 

                          Mak says to bathe rice 

                          as if it might break, and it will, 

                          its body hard, cracking as you

                          finish your wash— 

 

                                 —your vessel will cloud 

                                          like milk; your vessel needs 

                                          more water instilled— 

 

Tilt and remember being 

careful with things you hold

in hand. Use that hand, 

once a fist, clenching rice 

in cycles, now as a cup 

to catch rice falling 

out with the milky dirt.

                . . .you cannot save everyone. 

 

This does not matter, if I am

only telling you of rice enough

to clean & eat & live for yourself. . . 

 

You must repeat this for five cycles, 

and we are in the first. 

You must be deliberate or you risk forgetting

how long you have been cleaning

and break the rice. 

 

             You must still eat though—

             I am teaching you how to cleanse

            so you can live through this rice, 

            and you can still eat 

           broken things. 

 

           Two cups of rice, no matter 

           how broken, will let you live 

           to another day. 

 

And what else so you want 

but to eat to live another day? ? ? 

and when you starve you eat anything! ! !

Mak says, when I complain

for lack of meat or about raw bean sprouts or

like I cannot hear privilege from my mouth. 

 

                 In the work camps, 

                 a day of work is worth 

                 a bowl of rice only 

                 the size of a fist 

                given from a fist, 

Mak says. . . 

 

                  Eat enough to live,

                  her Mak would say 

                  passing her fist of rice

                  into Mak’s soft mouth.

 

                                       After some time 

                                                 

                                                  I see Mak cleaning 

                                                  the small back of Pha’s mother, 

                                                                            a woman she did not love, whom

                                                                            she cannot eat to live— 

         

                            —she washes

               still. . .

Picture of Chan Krisna

Chan Krisna

(she/they) is a non-binary sequence artist and American-born Khmer person. She is a frequent wanderer, stubborn to dwell in what opens between a before and an after; between herself and another.

Featured image by: Chan Krisna

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

EvEnts

Due to COVID-19, we currently have no upcoming events. 

Follow us for updates!

SUPPORT US!

PREORDER
our NEXT ISSUE