Poet Elisabeth Preston-Hsu hands readers a warm gift with her poem “Kitsune Udon”. Like a steaming bowl of delicious flavors, “Kitsune Udon” is a recipe of mythology, Zen simplicity, and storytelling. “Nourishment comes in many forms,” Elisabeth told The Dewdrop. “I offer you a bowl of soupy noodles entwined in the folklore of kitsune, a whole greater than the sum of its parts.”
means, a bowl of fried tofu, salty broth, noodles.
Is the favorite food of foxes—kitsune—
shapeshifters and messengers of Inari,
protector of tea, fertility, and rice harvest.
Magic occupies its preparation, a whole
greater than the sum of its parts.
Mix dashi, mirin, sugar, soy sauce, and salt.
Then: Fry tofu until fox colored.
Nestle this abura-age on a twist of cooked udon
in a bowl with flavored dashi. This is kitsune udon.
Venerate this tiny shrine, scent and steam rising
like breath. Pinch nine kitsune tails
into chopsticks and curl your tongue
around her folklore.
Here is one: A man meets a woman
wandering in the hills. They marry and have a baby.
A dog attacks the wife out of jealousy. She changes
into her fox body out of fear. She runs away.
You are a fox!
Kitsu-ne means come and sleep.
The mother of my son.
Ki-tsune means always comes.
She returns every night to sleep
in the bay of his arms, kombu brine
licked from her skin, curves on flank,
on shoulder blade, their bodies an escape
from ordinary sum to the sacred in whole,
now the steam rising from this vulpine bowl, mine.
Come and sleep, always come, I say to my lover.
Let us sanctuary here, away from the barking of dogs,
without fear, a gathering of us, this whole.
Elisabeth Preston-Hsu is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician in clinical practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Her writing has appeared or will appear in Hektoen International, Bellevue Literary Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, North American Review, and others. She received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Awards for New Writers in March/April 2019, was a finalist in New Letters’ Robert Day Award for Fiction in 2021, and was a semifinalist in the New England Journal of Medicine’s Medical Fiction contest in 2021 and Ruminate’s VanderMey Nonfiction Prize in 2021. Find her on Instagram @writers.eatery.