Where I was born, trees do not shed dresses for white blankets
and birds do not flock south. Instead of a seasonal crystalline,
we get solid sheets of water all year round.

I think of there, where I don’t need cover with yards of cloth
just to keep myself warm, where the sun beats on a metropolis that,
gray and hopeless as it looks, refuses to be beat.

My city: strings of lanterns tarnished with
the grime of centuries, stubbornly pulsing with all it’s got.
Decembers shine brighter than they do over here.

Lately, holidays have become hunts for gelatinous rice cakes
and shrimp paste and hot, thick chocolate;
I do not believe in Santa. I believe in care packages from tropical islands.


Congested, like arteries recently acquainted with the choicest
cuts of marbled beef, I can no longer stay in one shopping center
without bumping into someone I’d rather not see.

No one stops for a breath these days—nobody
buys things months in advance. Not that I would myself.
Ticks off a tickler, mama used to mutter. Ticks off a tickler.

After it all: her sighs, whispered relief, and
the packages all silver and glittered under our tree.
Beside them she would place the presents I made.

For as a child, sand-angels I fashioned, and plumped my cards
with cotton balls. They looked downy, they looked soft, I told my mama,
who laughed into the phone. The laughter sounding like bells in tolling.

There is strength in pain


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