Plunging hard onto the shore, the boy watched a woman fall from the whirling air. Her cloud-grey breasts glistened with warnings. Code yellow: reinforce your home’s foundations, windows, and roof. Code red: do not go outside unless necessary, all sailing activities must be halted, watch over your children and elderly; casualties expected. For days, men who were once at each other’s throats built sandbag embarkments. I’ve got to get you out of here, said his father, preparing to sail. One by one, fish, people, rubble, tin shacks, his father, his father’s crew, their boat – each took turns giving up gravity. You can’t just stay a wet, loser homeboy here, said the father, not in this little town, the town where he had grown thunder for teeth. The sea growled as the boy found them all, salted and beaten, sand slipping through his fingers. And it’s November all over again. No one spoke of air people whose names sounded nothing like the language he knew, except for the weather girl on TV. The day he left, what remained pooled in the boy’s eyes, sharpened by water, brimming with stars.
Tam Nguyen 🔈
Cà Mau, November 1997
About the Author
A 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee, Tam Nguyen is a poet and cultural laborer, born and raised in the south end of Vietnam; works appear and are forthcoming in Heavy Feather Review, Softblow, diaCRITICS, Cicadas, Dryland, and Queer Southeast Asia, among others.