Notes from Fortune Cookies

By | 15 May 2023

Someone you know deserves the truth.
A sharp tongue may be both a weapon and a tool.

Wisdom is the lamp, good thoughts the oil, sweet words the flame
spices the spoils of the British Empire, but still
salt is the only flavour your tongue can detect in this Christmas spread.

Don’t you know that nothing good ever happens to the only Asian
in a hundred kilometre radius, on a country estate, in a town called Dungog?
How many times must you watch Get Out before you learn?

Anywhere this far inland is too often too flat, too hot, too much of the same.
The old elm braces itself for their bulldozing questions
and is relieved at every second they do not come.

Hold fast, stay true to yourself, and you will inherit a great fortune.
Eat their Chinese noodle salad and you bring dishonour upon all your ancestors.

It is possible to be grateful for their hospitality
and critical of their cooking at the same time.
Confucius and Whitman both contained multitudes.

Do not reduce yourself to only one thing.
Let that be their mistake to make.

A discerning tongue may taste bitterness and know that
this is what it means to be only one-fifth alive.
Your tongue is a banyan tree more deeply rooted in your skull
than any of their bloodlines are in the soil of this country.

Your ancestors would have been the first to discover the West
if not for their complete lack of interest in it.
He who is content in his own home does not covet his neighbour’s land.

All things in their being are good for something
but every act of translation is an act of violence.
You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

This product contains eggs, wheat, and milk.
You contain multitudes.

Now and then someone will ask you
Where are you from originally?
Tell them fortune cookies were invented in California in the 1890s.
Tell them, I was born in Australia
but I am a product of my own invention.

Tell them how every day you are an act of violence,
a golden shell being cracked open
how you learned to recover the parts of yourself
that were lost in the act of translation, and how
in your own language
you recreate yourself.
In your own language
tell them how.

Please store in a cool dry place.

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