Laura McCullough
I Am Calling You

In Czech there is a word

for getting around paying          to flash

a signal, this, prozvonit, is what

my mother and father did when

I was young and he was away first

in the Navy

and later for work,       him calling home

on the land line,

which was then the only line,   and hanging up.

It meant

he was safe.

It meant, I love you.

It meant, The world is not holding us

apart at all but is just between the dots

we are

on the great grid.         In the hospital I buzzed

my brother on the nights I slept home until

the nurses said, Males can not stay; only

the daughter. In the night,

I huddled next to her listening

to the tides of her breath. Lost

in a pool and drowning, a winged

thing, unable to dry and lift

itself, my mammal hands

crude against her delicacy,

crushing. Sometimes I

wake in the night. Mother

are you there? Are you there?

I’m ready to learn another

language, a new syntax

if only you will speak

to me in which I can

hear;             how selfish this desire

to apprehend.


Found In Volume 46, No. 02
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  • Laura McCullough
Laura McCullough
About the Author

 Laura McCullough’s books include The Wild Night Dress, finalist, Miller Williams contest (University of Arkansas Press, 2017), Jersey Mercy (Black Lawrence Press, 2016), Rigger Death & Hoist Another (2013), Ripple & Snap (2013), and Panic (Alice James Books, 2011).