Michelle Tong

A Destination Wedding

Not a celestial cityscape or a gilded ballroom.
Not a sappy redwood forest or a barefoot beach.

Not even a panoramic mountain peak or
a dusk desert with the moon-glow lighting.

I want us gathered on the ground floor
of Woodman’s Supermarket, illuminated by

fluorescent incandescence, joined by whole
sale prices. We’ll seat guests in aisle eight

with the frozen TV meals, serve them goose
bumps more pebbled than summer’s best

bittermelon after they find out we fell
in love here. Before dinner, you’ll propose

baguette duels in aisle ten, call on friends
to joust with sticks of wheat and rye until

confetti crumbs coast from the ceiling
and everyone scrambles to catch a piece

of their own. In this frenzy, I’ll find you
calculating the price per egg in aisle one.

You’ll tell me skim milk prices went up,
I’ll ask you to count every candied crystal

in the seasonal sugar cookie sampler
I won’t buy. This is our holy exchange,

this ration of ritual— a cake walk.
When the fridge is empty, we’ll call

our guests, fill the baskets, and glide off
on shopping carts in an empty parking lot.

The Joy of Painting

Bob Ross came on Sundays,
tucked in a milk-stained canvas
bag, coiled in two spools of
tape: Yeye’s invitation-only,
plus-one-if-you-have-one affair.
We consumed color beams
from the screen, scrutinized
every stroke as if each strand
of our hair belonged on that
brush. Yeye’s was falling out
anyways. “Bright red can eat up
your world in just a heartbeat”

was really a lesson on color
conservation, so I relayed the
message as the time a mother
duck nested her eggs by our
garage and woke to eruptions
of webbed-foot blood blotch
on the driveway. See, bright red
ate up her world, we cannot use
too much of it
. I’m not sure
if Yeye heard, turned his
back to watch double color
coats as we waited for Popo
to come home from sweeping
another family’s kitchen.

Author Portrait

Michelle Tong is a Chinese American graduate student and poet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she helps run Melanin Speaking. She uses academic research and poetry to explore the intersection of diaspora, culture, and change in communities of older adults. Her work appears in The Margins, Waccamaw, and elsewhere. This summer, she will be joining River Styx's Hungry Young Poets reading series in St. Louis.