Ocean Vuong, David Chandler

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Aubade with burning city

South Vietnam, April 29, 1975: Armed Forces Radio played Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” as a code to begin Operation Frequent Wind, the ultimate evacuation of American civilians and Vietnamese refugees by helicopter during the fall of Saigon.

Milkflower petals in the street
like pieces of a girl’s dress.

May your days be merry and bright…

He fills a teacup with champagne, brings it to her lips.
Open, he says.
She opens.
Outside, a soldier spits out
his cigarette as footsteps fill the square like stones
fallen from the sky. May
all your Christmases be white
as the traffic guard unstraps his holster.

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