“Can’t you use chopsticks?”

That’s an easy question, it seems to me.

I’ve learned to use them for my whole life, at least by the time I was three. 

There is a balance to the trick,

And there must be a balance to the stick—

Because there is so much more importance that the thin twin twigs hold.

With a circular curve, everlasting as the sky up above so I am told,

And a rough rugged edge of the rocks on earth down below,

The balances can easily be thrown off, like tipping a scale or falling to the wind’s blow. 

So if you know the trick well, then you should be blessed,

That surely you will not be making a very foody mess.

But with fortune also comes taboo,

I knew this by the time I was two. 

Don’t leave them crossed or stick them like flagpoles to a mound,

For this is insulting to the spirits that live underground.

The rules I need to follow have made me a student my whole life,

With the wood as my teacher I find harmony, not strife.

So, yes I can use chopsticks as you can see. 

Here, give me your hand and maybe you can use it properly.

“Can’t you use chopsticks?”

I stare at my friend in horror, not glee.

For not being able to use chopsticks was never something I could foresee.

The way you hold it makes me quite queasy and sick

There needs to be a loose wrist with which you can give a quick flick.

You don’t see the importance that the thin twin twigs hold.

It shouldn’t be held like a pen, no ink would be smudged or bleeding I supposed,

But if you must do so, it should be like a river with a steady flow

The balances can easily be thrown off, one wobble and back in the bowl the food goes. 

So if you still don’t quite get it after all this time and stress,

Don’t be laughing like a five-year-old at the foody mess. 

You should see it as a practice, not an oddity,

Rather, it is a cultural custom, a commodity.

Don’t leave the chopsticks straight up and put them on the table,

Because if you do, like an old building in an earthquake, they can become unstable. 

It’s quite disrespectful to treat the technique as an absurdity when in sight,

Eating with chopsticks used to be for dining with delight.

So, no you can not use chopsticks, as my eyes perceive.

Here, I’ll ask for a fork and then you can eat properly.

Visual Credit: Van Tran

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