“Designer,” a Poem by Dorothy Chan


Like Flavor Flav taking Sweetie to Red Lobster on their first date, during the first season
of Flavor of Love.

I forget his order. But I learned how happiness comes in small things. I think about
seafood tanks in Hong Kong restaurants. How summers ago, at Dim Sum, my grandpa
and I watched the tanks together. How the abalone and inches of prawns and lobsters
with whiskers and big-lipped-injected fish floated. How summers ago, Grandpa told me
he wanted more poems about eels. How he predicted the future. What Chinese
Grandpa isn’t magical. As a three-year-old in Kowloon, I dreaded seafood market
trips—the eels jutting their heads out, their midnight tails wrapping around each other,
their tiny teeth sticking out of the tank. How I knew one would slip out and eat
three-year-old me holding a mango soft serve. Their orgy. How the eel is the sexier,
electric version of the femme born in the Year of the Snake. Fate. How Grandpa
predicted the future. What Chinese Grandpa isn’t magical. I think about snake patched
jackets walking down Gucci runways. I think about how twenty-three-year-old me once
dated a twice-my-age-you-do-the-math-Singaporean-fashion-designer-who-once-
dressed-presidents-past-his-prime. How summers ago, he gifted me a pink snakeskin
handbag. How summers ago, his older sister forbade me from ever seeing him again. You
do the math. It’s still fashion. I think about seafood tanks in Hong Kong restaurants—
how my grandpa is waiting for me, ordering the abalone.


Return of the Chinese Femme - Chan, Dorothy

Return of the Chinese Femme by Dorothy Chan is available via Deep Vellum.

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