air purifier

by Ria C.
Art by Allison Li
Issue: Nostos (Winter 2019)

she welcomes him into her home.

the air is fresh,

the food ripe and ready to eat.

she sends him clear water to drink.

protection, comfort, safety–

that he might join in her sanctuary.


he has no home yet,

he is here to just work his land.

and work he does–


the birds kill their song

so the visitor may walk in silence.

he need not clear his own path,

the leaves and vines shrink away from his step.


he makes his own meal out of her provisions

and washes his hands in the red stream.

each meal adds a stain she cannot remove,

he thinks. her welcome means little

to someone who cannot afford to greet her.


until the brook draws him in.

the soil under his feet is rich and fertile, 

the still water catches his eye–

he looks in awe at the beauty.

underneath the surface the water teems with life,

his origins, her source of pride, the world’s most beautiful–

yet all he sees is his reflection.


it is him.

“miracle worker”–

his land, his forest, his water.

they say he can transform any land

no matter how uncooperative. 


he drains the brook dry and keeps it with him.

his good fortune has brought him to the heart

of mother nature’s riches.


his good fortune burns down the forest.


he turns her into gold. 

his land will be 

beautiful, clean, perfect–

while she suffocates in her own home.