good fortune

Posted: May 2, 2016 in katherena vermette
Tags: , , , ,


red cloth torn along the seam
frayed edged square
draped over palm
a pinch of tobacco
offered up
to the sky first
in thanks
then dropped to cloth
dusky yellow against
the red
pressed in
folded around
and finally tied
with gratitude

yellow dough cut out
into a perfect square
floured with delicate
pinched together
in a curve

red ink on small
cuts of white
paper pushed
through the cooled seam
tiny words
of fortune
best wishes
unsolicited advice

this is how I understand it
the parallels of colour
and intention
but fortune cookies
are not ceremony
they were just a product
to make Asian culture
palatable to American

made either in Los Angeles by a Chinese immigrant
or in San Francisco by a Japanese citizen
fortune cookies accompanied
the Westernized food
and other refined stereotypes
they are really more akin to
brown dolls
with fringe jackets
beaded headbands
and Made in China stamps
in the plastic
more similar than
my tobacco ties
and prayers

I never knew the real story of fortune cookies
as a child I read them with reverence
tiny truths holding wide wisdoms
I would one day understand
trying to take it in
to know it

this is the sort of prayer I make now
as I tie my tobacco ties
only it works outward
I press it in
and send it out

red cloth torn along seam
frayed edged square
draped over palm
a pinch of tobacco
offered up to the sky first
in thanks

Katherena Vermette  is a Metis writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses’ Company) won the 2013 Governor General Literary Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared several literary magazine and anthologies. Her recent projects include a novel, The Break (House of Anansi) and a short documentary, this river (National Film Board of Canada).


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