Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Twenty-fourth Contest :: First Place Winner


Boat-Shaped Lemon

by Jessica Cheng
There's the four of us sitting around
the black dining table
that was clearly meant for
more than just four.
In front of me sat
two lobster tails,
a mound of mashed potatoes,
two stalks of broccoli, and
a boat-shaped lemon
all on a turquoise plate.
I look upon this dinner plate skeptically;
Every other Chinese family out there was having – oh!
Fresh steamed fish swimming in soy sauce,
Never-ending strands of noodles,
White tofu,
Ripe oranges, and
Oh! So much more on this first night of the lunar year.
I imagine the aromas that should have been
there in front of me
as I lifted the boat-shaped lemon.

You were there
with me on that boat
floating on Disney waters.
This was our third time now;
You were clearly done
and ready to jump out of the boat
and swim to the exit.
You didn't, though,
Because seeing me happy made you happy.
But all I knew was that
"It's a small, small world" would never
Get out of my head.
I was happy with everything new
My little eyes could catch upon.
But you weren't new.
I knew you for
seven years already by then.
I knew you weren't going to step out of my life.

I guess I was wrong a bit.

Nights spent
Sitting around, sleeping around
Alone.
I wish you were home,
But I knew you were away
For a good cause.
Without work,
There was no money.
No money meant
You couldn't give me anything
I wanted, I needed.

So, you put yourself to work.
Work, work, work.
Meanwhile, I went deeper into my studies.
School, school, school.
And eventually,
There were just occasional looks and words.
But your love for me never faded.

Then,
Pitch black.
Nothing.
Fifteen years gone;
All I saw in the future were
Salty tears
Piling into an ocean.

No, no, you said.
This ain't happening.
And you grabbed my hand
Out of that black darkness
Yanked with all your might
Gave up days of work
Found me an airplane
Out; we went on a vacation.
Later, we had dinners together outside and
Under our sweet home's roof.
My salty tears
Dripping...

Became drops of lemon juice.
Citric juice fell over
my slightly overcooked lobster
and spread onto the rest of
my simple platter
that you had specially cooked
for this very night.
My fork dived in, and
all I thought was
"I love you, Dad."

About the Author
“I'm a high school student from New York, NY. Poetry was my way of expressing things when I could not find a way for myself to say things aloud. This poem is dedicated to my father and is based on true events. Through my years of living, I learned that family is important, and family life is just as important as school life and work life.”
Second Place Winner
Blue Mountain Arts