Carry Me Home
I find my mother’s note next to my old leather-bound Bible. It’s written on manila stock, folded in quarters, and deposited into a white paper envelope. My name appears on the front in blue cursive. I slip it into my jean pocket but do not open it.
In her late sixties, she has recently remarried and developed an odd habit of cleaning the kitchen before cooking. Adorning the walls are paintings of angels, framed parchments of scripture, and crosses. Never pausing to gaze down, her hands move precisely—the blade gliding through potato skins, the faucet forgotten and whirring. The gold cross around her neck pulls the wiry necklace down across her chest. Flecks of garlic and cilantro fall to the floor, the smell filling the air. She hums “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” but the whirring of the faucet drowns her out as she hits the chorus.
It’s the first time I’ve been home in eight months.
“Church?” she asks.
I tell her I’m tired of talking about it. She stops, exhales through her nose.
She leans over the granite counter with a sweeping hand motion as if presenting the smooth wooden dining table in the adjoining room. Her forearms are beaded with splotches of moisture and flecks of lettuce. Through the window above the sink the grey clouds tumble and coalesce.
I set the table in silence—ivory charger plates underneath ivory dishes, sterling silver forks on the left, knife and spoons on the right. Each item has its place.
We step out on the back patio—gazing out over the emerald fairways of the suburban course and the surrounding mansions in the distance. Above, I spot a funnel cloud. Downward, it curves long and slender with the subtle elegance of a champagne flute. As if uncommitted, its stem stops short, suspended in that space between the heavens and the earth. All is motionless except the whirring of the twister; the sky remains ghostly white.
She says, “I guess you read the note.”
She says, “I worry about you.”
About the author: Wesley Dunning received his BA in English (Creative Writing) from Colorado State University in 2004 and graduated with his MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Memphis in 2010. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Composition and TESOL program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His work has been published in Poetry Quarterly.