Adrienne Su has authored four books of poems: most recently, Living Quarters (Manic D Press, 2015). These poems come from a manuscript-in-progress that focuses on Chinese food in America as a way of considering American culture, as well as the small, scattered Chinese-American community of Su's childhood in Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s. Other poems from the project appear or are forthcoming in AMP, AAWW: The Margins, The New Yorker, Poetry, and New England Review. Recipient of an NEA fellowship, Su has taught at Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, since 2000.
Chicken Corn Soup
Despite corn’s known origins,
the dish proclaims itself German,
known as Dutch here in Cumberland
Valley. While it has in common
with my forebears a non-aversion
to bird feet and on occasion
giblets, the soup I first knew as chicken
corn contained neither. Suburban,
Georgian, and as proud as any neighbor
of our own Jimmy Carter,
I saw no contradiction in Del Monte
and Swanson in a Chinese recipe;
that was how it had always been.
For this comforting one, you opened
two cans (broth, creamed corn),
warmed the contents in a saucepan,
then added watercress for an instant
first or last course, actual chicken
optional. But now that I’ve dwelled in
Dutch country for a generation,
the name evokes a hearty main,
a long-simmered production
dependent on sweet corn in season,
although most cravings kick in
when it snows. Thus the solution:
in winter, be a Chinese American
from nineteen seventy-seven;
in summer, check out the garden.
The International Aisle: Asia
Taste of ____.
Cup O’ Noodles.
Chinese Restaurant Tea.
Envelopes: curry, miso soup.
My Mother's Pantry
rice wine, wine rice,
gefilte fish, Dole fruit cocktail,
thousand-year eggs, chrysanthemum
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
the preserved plums
that you hauled
on the plane
you were probably
for the rest of the year
they were memory incarnate
and so sour