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.