a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
My father calls to tell me my mother is worried about the bushes.
Which bushes, I want to know.
The ones in front of the shed I want to uproot, he says.
It takes only the forward motion of a tractor, we think.
Laura begs mom to stay in England for a whole month,
but mom shakes her head—her heart palpitations in the airport,
their dying boxer, her two feet suspended in the air
above the ocean without my father’s two feet—her other earth.
I call to say I can’t sleep. I watch a new lover bend in the bed
like an exotic insect. Find a church, mom says.
My heart has boards over it, tacked not nailed, I tell her.
Come home, mom says. Uncle Herman’s house is empty.
Daddy says if those bushes were gone, he’d build a veranda
with a roof to cover a table for a long spread of folks
holding forks and babies. The bushes have roots, Mom says.
What else will be taken with them?
Laura stayed in England when she fell in love with a Brit
and we all swallowed the Atlantic Ocean.
It tasted like guilt and malt vinegar, and when we go there,
lighthouses along the North Sea stare at Denmark,
and the Geordies clink their beers shirtless in the sun.
Her daughters bob in the park like nettles or Wordsworth’s daffodils.
They carry our faces on phones upstairs to the bath.
Awake, I worry they worry about me as they would an unstaked tent,
a released balloon. When my phone lights up,
I say they won’t believe the flatness
of the Cumberland plateau, the raw pink sky in Tennessee.
C.L. White is a poet and journalist living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Originally from Gold Hill, North Carolina, she holds a BA from UNC Chapel Hill and an MFA from UNC Greensboro. Her work has appeared in Oxford American, Mid-American Review, Chattahoochee Review, New Ohio Review, Best New Poets, and Mississippi Review, among other places. Her poetry attempts to capture the voices of her family and place of origin, especially the interior dialogues of women.