Migration by Laura Citino
I lie on my back with someone else's hands in my mouth. The window of my dentist's office is a warm square of blue crossed with black branches. She scrapes my teeth and says the winters are mild in Indiana, which is not where I am from but it is where we live now and where I have a dentist. She says in Indiana her dad plays golf on Christmas. The geese honk outside the window and I hate the dentist but I am grateful I can afford it. At work I go out for breaks once an hour to watch the clouds stretching like wool behind the water tower. It is hard to tell whether the geese are leaving or coming home because Indiana is a little bit north and a little bit south. The people speak nasal vowels stuffed into drawls; there's sweet tea in the thermoses when the hunters go to the fields. Black checkmarks against the sherbet striped sky, the bodies of the geese type out messages precise as they are ancient: winter is here / it is time to leave. I call in return, o interrupters of picnics, it is mild and we should be grateful. I am not as north as I'd like to be. I drive home. I exit the highway but I am reluctant / but I could keep going and the sun is out again, outlined by the dirty windshield of the car I have had forever. The geese erupt out of the dead & dying grass. I roll down my window and throw my voice away / o darling example of why we should not feed the animals, you sound like you are losing your minds. The geese sink down like tea leaves into a cup. not time yet after all, they say. not time yet and now I am chanting it into the phone with my mother. She is from Michigan like me now she lives in the south now she will not leave the house when it's raining. A bad thing happened to my mother in Michigan / but not to me at least not directly to me though she is my mother. I arrive at my apartment where a doormat covers a tea stain in the hallway. I have moved across the country twice in as many years and am grateful for my things being in one place. I am grateful for global warming that makes the winters mild that confuses the geese that means I can golf on Christmas / if I stay here if I go outside to stand on my porch to watch the geese who are now small in the sky. I sing, migration is not leaving but the fact of a later returning. I sing, stay a little longer. Silence in return. In the lengthening sunlight I put on my coat and leave for the day I will be back the next day I do not know when I will leave.
Laura Citino is a fiction writer and essayist from southeastern Michigan. She received her MFA in fiction from Eastern Washington University. Her work has appeared in journals such as Passages North, Sou’wester, Gigantic Sequins, cream city review, and others. She currently serves as Fiction Editor for Sundog Lit.