Annah Browning

What if my sideways smile
slipped down a little,

did not behave? Darling
Sister, love me, do you

not, unbraiding your hair
into waves? Our house rocks

like a ship at sea, our house
hums in the night. Planets

coast by like peculiar eyes,
pinpricks in the glass

of the window. Sing Oh Consonant,
Oh Vowel. Oh Consonant again.

Speech between your lips
lumpy as soup, burning like gin.

Breathe on me, so softly.
Bring me nightmares again.


When your heart feels
evil, don't make it

lie to you. Place your
neck on the cold table

and feel warm wind
rising behind you,

tossing the trees
like a young woman

waking up to thrash
her hair with a brush.

Don't be afraid
of the wasp prickling

its slim legs on
the hair of your arm.

Listen. Every day
a match is struck

and rubbed out
on the skyline.

Annah Browning hails from the foothills of South Carolina, but currently calls Chicago home. She holds a Ph.D. from the Program for Writers at The University of Illinois-Chicago. She is the author of a chapbook, The Marriage (Horse Less Press, 2013), and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Willow Springs, Verse Daily, Indiana Review, and other journals. She is poetry editor of Grimoire, an online literary magazine of dark arts.