The Lies That Bind

We don’t know how old Grandma is. She stole a few extra years in Toishan to work in Hong Kong— an early birthday  gift for a hungry house.

Now her age is another secret with no answer, like what’s really  in her delicious jellyfish sauce and why have I never brought a boy home.

My grandmother’s tongue bends time, stretches the years like practiced hands pulling pushing kneading dough                               into a shape agreeable 

to her memory. She’s been telling me she’s ninety       proudly for the last six years.

She asks       again when she will get to eat beng, if I’ve met any good men, when she will have her cup of cha . I wonder if the truth  would scald or soothe I try to remember if she’s 91  or 92; I think of the woman I love and I say, Soon, Grandma. Soon.