Ode to Tomato & Egg Stir-Fry

and I suppose it is 
the very essence of simplicity: 
two tomatoes cooked to sweat 
like carefree uncles 
chatting about nothing at the sauna
two eggs scrambled 
salt and sesame oil
palm-dash of scallion
combine and done! 
two helpings of comfort
that my mother would serve
over yesterday’s rice
spooning patterns of red and gold
the colours of festival lanterns
and phoenixes and guardian lions and prosperity
before me like a blessing
though perhaps it is a failing 
to speak too much fantasy and spectacle
into so simple a dish
after all it is true that my mother
was not a myth
-ical gourmet chef who could magic a tomato 
into an even tomatoey-er tomato
nor a practitioner of some exotic sorcery
of spices or impossible knife skill
in fact she had clumsy hands
and loathed cooking
which I imagine had something to do with how
after so many dishwashing shifts
the twenty-seven bones 
of each of her 
not particularly delicate hands
blossomed a sad ache
though one unlike the kind when
being unable to afford a new Optimus Prime
or whatever new plastic happiness of the season 
she would hear me cry out
for my late father
employing a sort of cruelty 
unique to sons who know only their own unhappiness
and yet despite 
the accumulation of these sibling pains
the insidious alchemy large sorrows perform
upon smaller ones 
she would
without fail
at least three times a week
spoon tomato and egg 
over my rice
and so perhaps the true failing would be to speak 
merely simply
of her insistent blessings
how even with her not especially tomatoey tomatoes
and her not uncommonly eggy eggs
and her aching
inelegant hands
she believed no other better suited 
to sate the bottomless hunger of my boyhood
or how
after an hour of playing tag with the neighbour’s boy
having made a whirlwind of my bubbling stomach
I puked on his feet
all that red and gold
as if to say:
Look! Look, my friend!
Look at what my mother has given me —
There is something inside me the colour of phoenixes.

E.A. Wang (they/them) is a Chinese writer residing in Ontario. Their work can be found in or is forthcoming from Contemporary Verse 2, Poetry Northwest, PRISM International and elsewhere. They can be found (very seldomly) on Twitter @poemaroo