We spend our childhood picking tobacco in Tennesee. In the morning, while the parable of the day is still strong, we distinguish one variation of ourselves from another and come home with hands smelling to high heaven.




















We sleep in coldframes beside the seed during summer. We are not embarrassed to be bundled dirty in our sleep before harvest—a smorgasbord of gods humming like cicadas around our dreams.




















The gods are trapped in lampposts. The gods are trapped in strollers. The gods are trapped in passing. Let’s be honest, they are trying to figure out what to love most.




















After harvest, we escape from the center.
We take baths in the prairie. It is like being enveloped by a warm animal, a disjointed giving ourselves over, lit like wheat.



























In the empty fields we begin to prove our own riddles with hard questions. We yell the enigma of the Sphinx to its cousin the Scarecrow. We hope it answers us with wine for supper. Instead, Father’s crows start calling—



























Oh Dio! Oh Dio! The crows of tobacco are light as laundry lines. Stomata of days opening as hunters yell Oh Dio! Oh Dio! Somewhere between what we hope and what we pray, there are hands on clean rifles.




















Father sleeps like a black cow in the middle of the highway at night. Night is a calendar without knowledge of boxes.



























We could never join in playing brides on the playground. We could never pretend to wear white. I’d like to tell you that in Tennessee no one wears white, but this is not true.

























Our mother has no arms. She watched us wash away in the flood. We tried to hold onto the water, but were never taught how.

























Mother is elephant skin that’s been rained on. When you see the bird over the river, you can stop. She said. Begin to be honest with yourself. She said. Sing in the shower. She said at the bottom of her small dark pond.

























The naming of things is important. Even at the dinner table. Mother said so. These are peas pushing around our plate. This is milk grown warm in its glass. No one ever names this ritual—or how parts of us break off inside our own skin—no one wants to name the naming—and what else can be done?

















Father stains my hands to remind us

of the seasons. But we are hungry!

We chant to Father, Hey dad we’re never gonna

get married!
We chant to the god

in the lamppost, prosody pathos repeat repair

pear corn light listen—we want to be just like

We hold Father hostage under

the deck and plan to transport him

to the grain silo. The Scarecrow nods yes.













                                  We whisper our worries to Father,






                what is this “mother-father”
          and how do we do it?










                Father answers,




The presence of dream (joy, mirth, music) has caused the dream to

be averted as if in lulled council. Each facet of what in myself is made

warm, made pleasant—is in a several kind of world—

in a conversation that cannot describe its own layering

no sense in ascribing reality to something before it is measured.

Sometimes I think to myself

Sometimes I think I will wait until I have agency again