Burying the Typewriter by Carmen Bugan

Old Photographs

Every few weeks my mother rearranges the family pictures around the house. She also moves the beds and the rugs, and she places every movable desk in front of a different window. Then she calls me. My father builds a new garage in every house we buy, but it's never about the garage. He takes his favorite photos of us to the shops, enlarges and frames them, setting them between the tools and around the car crane. Lately he turned a summer shed into a writer's hut where he spends his time drafting letters to the presidents of the world. He tells them about the rotten state of forgetting to which he has been condemned since we emigrated to America.

Since we moved into Thelma's basement on November 17, 1989, the snowy evening when we first landed in America, I must have moved again at least fifteen times. Whenever I go home I argue with my parents about not wanting to build a house in their backyard with my brother and my sister and our husbands. And I clean my parents' house, changing all the pictures around the walls. Then I call my mother at work to hurry up and come see the new arrangement. My brother chose a career in the U.S. Army, my sister still wants to be a traveling nurse, and I have lived in America, Ireland, and England, and on the French-Swiss border, writing poems about wanting to be rooted to one place that I will never leave.

Excerpted from Burying the Typewriter by Carmen Bugan. Copyright © 2012 by Carmen Bugan. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.