white Christmas

By | 1 May 2021

“How is your English?”
Maria kneels on the floor
elbow-deep in an ice chest
white collared shirt, black vest
she glances up
to let me know it’s me
she’s talking to
Andre stands next to Maria
arranging champagne flutes

I say “My English is fine.”
Maria sighs, hands me a tray
says “you serve food tonight,
Andre and I do drinks.”

big house at a Northwood address
Roman columns out front, triple garage below,
pool out back, koi pond as you walk through
the front gate
close to the bay, so I try to
picture the view from the
upstairs balcony
the hostess, Mimi,
is a tall, thin, dark-haired woman
the skin ‘round her eyes and mouth
plumped and pulled taut
by surgery. Difficult to say
if she’s in her 40s, 50s or 60s

her husband Gus
is an investment banker
every year, around Christmas
he throws a little get-together
for his clients. I thought it polite to tell her
she has a lovely house
Mimi cocks her head
wide unfeeling eyes
looking right through me
hollow voice
cadent with pity and curiosity
she answers “I do, don’t I?”
I smile and continue to move
empty wine boxes out of the living room

sent downstairs to the garage
where the caterers had set up
Tom wore glasses, hair cropped close to his head
has the kind of smile which makes me forget
I have a boyfriend waiting for me at home

Nate was the chattier of the two
asks me what high school I went to
“Macquarie Fields High”
“Is that Campbelltown way?”
“That’s right.”
“We drove through once on the way to a job. Picked up
fuel where there’s a KFC next to a Maccas.”
tell’em they’d found the hottest spot in Mac Fields
Tom laughs, makes me blush
wasn’t even joking. Anyone from Mac Fields
would tell you it’s the truth

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