Annah Browning lives in Chicago, where she recently graduated with her Ph.D. from the Program for Writers at the University at Illinois-Chicago and is poetry editor of Grimoire Magazine. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic, Black Warrior Review, and Southern Indiana Review.
I pat the ectoplasm on the table
and watch it dry. Wax and cheese-
cloth, the intestine of a sheep,
yellow-white frilly loveliness.
If this is a metaphor, it is for
the oldest aproned frocks, for when
I was a girl who still believed
I would blossom, turn into
my mother: classically
as candles. Still, I have not died.
If I pull this substance
from my thighs, the widows think
I have been somewhere, and gasp,
and the knocks in the walls sound
like rabbit ghosts — the pounding
of what wants to remain invisible.
Rain like — the running patter
of rats above my head when
I'm sleeping, the trickle sound
their teeth gnawing the headboards.
And I remember feeling the velvet
of another woman's skin
when I was helping her into a bath
before she was married, and when
my hand dropped like a pebble
in the water, it was slick white
and useless, much as a soul is.
A Shadow Left My Party
A Shadow left my party
and started climbing stairs —
did not stop at any landing,
stepped quietly, laid itself
down at the foot of my bed
like a pair of stockings,
and it waits for me with
a serious kind of closeness
like when someone leans
into your ear to whisper
of some senior so-and-so's
misfortune, a blood vessel's backfire,
reminding me of the brains
in all our skulls, wet and silent
like the walnuts outside
my window in the rain.
The distortion of the glass,
catching my face just there —
eyebrows smudging together like
a horizon line, hillside
waiting for the snow.