christmas card

i was helping

a vietnamese girl

doing my nails

write a christmas card

to her boyfriend

 

when she entered

 

an old woman

with wide glasses

 

“speak english”

came the cold sneer of command

“you people”

she muttered

when asked to pick a colour

“i can’t understand you”

she answered

when she was asked

“how are you?”

 

she spoke

like these vietnamese women

were deaf

 

she spoke

down to them

as if they were dogs

 

but this girl

(the one i was writing the christmas card for)

she had laughter

that sounded like bubbles

 

and i knew

she’d be alright

 

but don’t you ever

tell me

that it’s

‘just how it was’

for that old woman

 

because it costs nothing

to be kind

it costs nothing

 

merry christmas

happy new year

let’s see each other soon

 

all its associated words

nature

and all its associated words

like ‘natural’

have come to mean

 

 

something whole

something good

something like

a tadpole

or firewood

 

but where i live

nature is not nearly

as peaceful

as tranquil

as rhythmic

as she appears

 

on the contrary

when summer comes

she comes in waves

waves of heat

of humidity

of insects

 

waves

 

the insects

come in a cloud

crawl under the door

into my light fixtures

to fall

into my soup

my tea

my clothes

my eyes

 

last night

lying in bed

listening

no,

feeling

the thunder roll

the lightning crack

the wind

shake my doors

my windows

my floors

 

frighten my dogs

quivering

under the bed

on all fours

 

hearing

the next morning

after little sleep

that a man died

from a lightning strike

that pets are missing

that whole trees

have come out of the ground

 

but this is not

a natural disaster

only

part of summer

 

so

when i see

the word

natural

to mean

 

something whole

something good

like a tadpole

or firewood

 

i think of

the sweat

down my spine

listening to

the coming thunder

the drumming rain

 

and i take it

as warning