Tomato musk clings to our skin, numb fingertips, and our breath plumes and hovers unspoken thoughts above our heads. Smoke signals. Warnings

pretend not to see. Jude and I grip sturdy stems, tug until the roots rip free. Were these vines less rooted, it would be much easier

to leave. My eyes catch the geese fleeing beyond tall pines.

As Jude rummages for spices that play hide-and-go seek in her cupboards, I ponder the cardboard fortress piled next to her empty china cabinet. I say, The boxes are still packed? Were I to pay attention to my intonational slips, to unexpected innuendos, would I keep finding myself in places where I must decide

how long I’ll stay? In search of vagrant spices, we walk from her cabin to town. She fingers fuchsia and violet sweet peas climbing a gate. Says, I can hear their scent. And though we explode with laughter at the unintended slip, the warning strikes me. We’ve become as voiceless as these flowers attempting escape. I wonder if we’ll manage to bloom

into October. The autumn sun seeps into the placid lake. Overhead, fearless geese flee. In my truck, I chase them south. My roots trail soil through the open window as I scream my scent into the air.

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