Poets in Motion
Poets in Motion

Please Don't Cry Over Spilled Rice

by Lenora Huỳnh about a year ago in art

This poem is about my personal and emotional experiences with cultural alterity while growing up. At times, I found myself not eating my lunch at school in order to feel like I belonged. Essentially, this is my way of responding to my mother's concerns of whether I've eaten yet.

When I was a child, I would often come home with an untouched lunch. My parents never understood why I didn't want to eat Vietnamese food. Especially at school. The food I had within my lunchboxes often consisted of strong smells and tastes, so foreign to the peers around me. I was anxious, I was scared that I would become ostracized for eating something different. Now, I know that Vietnamese food, has an abundance of colour, aroma, and depth. All of these things were definitely, not found in Lunchables.

"I don't think you understand how lucky you are, to have this home-made Vietnamese food prepared for you, each and every day. Children these days just don't know how good they have it."

This is something my mother would say, after she finds my lunchbox filled with food so spoiled, you couldn't even fathom how long it stayed in the dark. And by in the dark, I meannot telling her my feelings and how embarrassed I always felt at school. Instead, I would simply ask for Lunchables or something more westernized. My parents didn't think what I asked for, could fill my stomach... and they were right. I needed real comfort food.

So now here I am, feeling sorry over the past. I shouldn't have felt embarrassed to eat the food that was made from love. I deprived myself from that. I was hungry.

please don't cry over spilled ricehave you eaten yet?i cannot seem to show how much i love you.does this rice even belong here?i don’t want to eat...something that hurtsmy self esteemspills;it’s getting more difficult to contain myself.this food doesn't taste good anymore.what you call comfort,i do not recall having...in a land full of prairies.
Lenora Huỳnh
Lenora Huỳnh
Read next: I'm Tired...
Lenora Huỳnh

Lenora is a second generation Vietnamese-Canadian poet, artist, and visual culture major. In her spare time, she loves to watch Criterion Collection films and visit art galleries.

Follow me @lenorahuynh

See all posts by Lenora Huỳnh