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Instant Ramen

Because the house was conceived by an architect
who hadn't cooked his own meals,
the box dwelled vertically in the broom closet

whose shoji panels, designed for elegance,
slid aside to reveal a space so narrow
our perpetual case of Sapporo Ichiban

shouldn't have fit. Yet the supply seemed infinite,
taking care of all who came home hungry,
broth, an egg, a handful of spinach giving it

dignity enough for a meal or a bridge
to a meal. It soothed us as children,
sick or well. Always there on short notice,

it saved us from takeout, saw both parents
through days of grading and bills,
weekends of yard work. Neither junk

nor an emblem of struggle, it made no one fat.
Later, when I met it in public, saw it mocked,
I wanted to defend it, show it decked out

with Napa cabbage slivers, nori flakes,
bright green peas, but was taken abackó
less by the commonness, more by the disdain,

as if ramen were a stage one grows out of:
mythic years of cooking on a hot plate,
studying late, not having found true love.

I am ashamed to say I did not stand up.
I let everyone mock it, even mocked it myself:
grease with a side of MSG. I forgot who I was,

young and hungry, sliding aside the shoji
in search of transformation,
in search of energy.

Adrienne Su

Prairie Schooner

Winter 2017

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