It was they who led me
to your Golden Arches.
And to this forsaken ordering line.

A man’s heart has heard
two ways through lunch…
the way of the Chicken McNugget
and the way of the Big Mac.

You have to choose.
The Chicken McNugget doesn’t try
to please itself.
Accepts being trimmed
fried, dunked in savory sauces.

The Big Mac only wants
to please itself.
Like this idiot
at the counter
paying entirely in change.

The Big Mac
likes to lord over the McNugget.
Is it the bun
sandwiching its carnivorous nectar?
Or the melted cheese
gooey in its own transcendence?
I don’t know. I just want to eat.

Bless these foods.
To have their own way.
It finds reasons
to be unhappy…
when the customer ahead is
mulling instead of ordering
when hunger is grimacing
through all things.

They taught us that no one
who loves the way of the Big Mac…
ever comes to a bad end.
I will be true to you.
Whatever comes.
Which I hope is sooner than later
because much film editing still remains.

My son.
I just want to die…
I’m so famished.
My stomach is in God’s hands now.
It was in God’s hands the whole time.
Wasn’t it?
My hope.
My God.
My burger.

How did you come to me?
In what shape?
What disguise?
I hope it was either a Big Mac
or a Chicken McNugget.
I see the child that I was.
That child got to eat
when he was hungry.

Is there some fraud
in the scheme of this neverending line?
It’s that woman
who stands alone but is ordering
for her entire fucking family.
We cannot stay where we are.
We must journey forth.
Maybe to the Burger King
on the next block.
We must find that which
will fill our empty stomachs.
Nothing can bring us peace
but that.

Help each other.
Eat everyone.
I mean love everyone.
Every leaf.
Every ray of light.
Every French fry.
The only way
to be happy is to eat.
Unless you eat,
your life will flash by.
Why the hell didn’t
The Thin Red Line
win Best Picture?

Follow me.
l give him to you.
I give you my son.
Seriously, he’s yours.
If I can just order a Number One.

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SUNG J. WOO is a writer living in New Jersey. Some of his short stories and essays have appeared in McSweeney's, KoreAm Journal, and The New York Times. His debut novel, Everything Asian (April 2009), has been praised by the Christian Science Monitor and received a starred review from Kirkus.

5 responses to “The Fast Food of Life: Terrence Malick at McDonald’s”

  1. Laura Bogart says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve gotten my ab workout from laughing.

  2. Gloria says:

    I’ve been this hungry, too.

    Fun stuff.

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