White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Annah Browning
Annah Browning is a soon-to-be resident of Chicago, Illinois. You can find find other poems of hers in The Kenyon Review Online, DIAGRAM, and coming soon in The Southeast Review and Handsome Journal.

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The Inheritors

Annah Browning

Annah Browning







And will the white-faced

             angel turn again to smoke


and will we hear it, the small

             sparks in the cloud—


from the single great eye

             of heaven a finger pushes


a funnel down on this, our

             dreaming—trees make way


for yellow sky, hole on the horizon—

             this the gap-toothed smile


of the future, what has already

             been unkind to us.

Annah Browning





There are coils of rope and a ladder.


There are mason jars filled with cupped

             thunder—what was heard


through the wall—my dreaming.


Say over my body, Did anyone ever live


here at all? And some glass will

             wink at the corner of an eye,

and say, I does. Mirror face, you hold


no shapes. The drawers have all

             been emptied. The dogs


are angels, they all bark now—howl after

             us, sounds of the other world.

Annah Browning





Push the fence post down.

    I stripped back here,


to something else. White

    salt lick, caught


    in the dim.


Tell me, what I was

    before it got so still—


Brother I don’t know—

    who I would rather


    say a prayer to.

Annah Browning





When I am over, let me be,

    truly over—shadow


the water, red-tipped—


it is all silence over field


all hover over the launch

the ugly sings of the unfed


echo unmatched by those


mouths up in snow

heads twined up in fence







Annah Browning

what is not prayerful—


what is not prayer.

Annah Browning





Pulse to the forest—what rain

             is coming in? To lash


my window, to disturb an eye

              unused to seeing


a curtain walk across a floor.

The house must now be collected.


You who stand across the field,

             who are you? Sky blots


your features, body a dim stalk

              on the climb— oh heavenward,


direct me—when you crest that hill

             it is I, I will be struck.


Annah Browning





From here, there is no light

              that cannot touch you,


you say, and press a leaf

              into my hand.


A purple shadow slides into

             your sockets, wipes your

eyes away. Brother, I say.


Brother. It has taken me.


Annah Browning







There are mouths.

             The mouths are open.


You have seen them, you have seen

              them consume—feathers.


Your right hand. All that was left,

             you did keep well.


A bow draws threads across

             your chords—your voice


was not yours, you, were never

             your own—heaven holds





Annah Browning

you down with a feline paw,

             your chest the weighted


object— there is nowhere she

             cannot find you. Slide


your fingers down your throat—

             box bursting all its strings,


there is light in your mouth,

             your eyes, yes, it has


risen, you long beheld unwanted

             thing, today you walk


beside us Inheritors, we climb

             you, from your shoulders


we will spring to heaven—


you the chair on which God

             has been seated, you are




Annah Browning

hammered in two, who knows when

             you will be called


back to quiet, to petals ripped

             and raging all above


the settled storm.


Annah Browning





Brother I listen for you,


abbreviated the rain through leaves

              will sift, psalter

the pine I press my face to,


the sap line doth anoint me, I,

             wanted so little of the wine


but there I had it, I drank the silt-song

             bitterness, I drank


the herd-waste, I dreamt of long legs

              in the dark, the man-pride


walking over me, hoof-marks moons

              I find on my body now, what




Annah Browning

has come I see in throat-lines, the burnt

             trees sogged and standing


can something be both wet and brittle

can stone become a bird when thrown


low thicket, I fear you,

             calling me—


evangel. The white

             in the center of my eye.


Annah Browning





believe it believe it believe it


I have walked a long time

back into my feet and


are the other faces going

              to bend down or no?


Out of trees— they are a crowd,

they are a crowd I have been


walking through all my life,


trespass through bark, I peel


you too, push back skin

for smooth, the small




Annah Browning

and wet—what was moving,

             all the time upward—

tenderest part climbs,


weed-fingers press, press

             all over me—roots,


lick into my brain somehow


leaves, come stroke me down.

             I no longer vertical


no pillar cloud shuffling on.


Annah Browning





I am going—

             my country.


My size the size of my country.

             Cold crawl under


brush and waste. Redbird, horrible,

             waxwing, don’t find me


don’t let me be

             so easy to see, to slash


my eyes with feathers, to catch

             the little rains that spill


from me. Deciduous—yes—

Filled and refilled, my hair




Annah Browning

a snake-tongue at my neck,

             do not, not yet


congratulate me that I

             have made alive.

I abuse this mouth, the old


blood-ways creeping through me.

             Slow mountain, move off


my sloping sides. He yet waits

             with his terrible fingers—


oh please, oh please be right

              here, right here.


Annah Browning





I walk on hands

             that I can’t see—


all the fingers, let them

             carry me, slim white


keys, what hovers—

             dim that kissed

my temples once, twice


I heard a sound in woods,

             wisteria cracking ground—


who made me, for what

             purpose was I twinned,


walking both above and below—

river, take my questioned



Annah Browning

body and lay it out, I am

             only the thing that blocks


the sun, imperfect caged in limbs—


what comes around me, look


this my failure


this the thing pitched

             off me by the light


to roll on grass and sleep


bury the glass

             bury the hands


bury the face that slipped—


Annah Browning







What has been marked

             will be brought to the fire.


What has been marked

             will be carried away.


We bring our face to you, believer.

We bring you our pock-skin’s


taste. Eyes hold any shape.

Gleam-sleep. Promise of the dial—


swing this way, chariot.


We will sleep on the arms of trees.


Annah Browning







I stand over headwater,


my feet are pressed—



eagle thin and distant my thought


turns and turns.



Everything bears me,


I cannot not give thanks.


Annah Browning





Frail color, tree follicles


tiny fingers that say,


we got just this far, then



we bloomed. What continues—


light rests on the mud, the shine



eyes just big enough to dream.


If I could see from the top


of my skull— if I could see




Annah Browning

with fingers—if I could press


awake you, with my sight—


Annah Browning





Low mud river circles

my knees—bend to feed


the water, breasts of mine.

             I’ll nurse the fish,


if no other thing—


you smiling there, beneath—

             go, now. I can’t pull


a milky hand up now. Sky

             settled with oil


on the surface—


Annah Browning





Into the hatchery. All these

             trout, blooming eyes


lidless, lidless,

              looking up on me.


He is not here—

             silver mouths


shine and open breath,

             their water breath


tinny bell on my ear

             the long tails


falling down the dark




Annah Browning

wave it away, wave



all spirits, ye patterned

             backsides, your pretty-


curled lips, what else will

             come from the throat—


what is it that falls

             into my palm


more than bright it’s eating,

             eating me through.


Annah Browning





This the church of longing—


             fish brushed dome inside

my teeth, tap tap tap


we are in here, yes as I am


here, flooded hood of trees

my stomach lit up even as


I say I don’t want to be

              that kind of vessel,


even as I don’t know

             why you should come


for me, my body the valve

             I go in, out, in.


Annah Browning







Rest only a little

             on the way


to that rare, curious form—


we hopping in the trees

             say     Stay,


              the miracle total—


the world not the world at all.


Annah Browning





This something I want

    you to know—


ice fills and my face floats,

    a cloud over all


the hoof-prints, all

     the wolf-prints—


full wet, quiet glass.

I have lived long enough,


says this bird, to remember


being born— that plunge

     at a pane—


the trees that wave,

    then turn me back.


Annah Browning





Angel baby—was a prediction.

    I too wanted to be


departed, small, a hand

    cupped over a light.


That was my body, the bird

    in the chimney,


its burning wings—

    and I said,

don’t put that fire down—


what doesn’t fly does not

    deserve an answer—


ache with soot around the eyes

    but I can’t lie


about this splendor.


Annah Browning





Chorus Plus One:


There was someone else there


             And you.         And you.


And then I was still—


And then I was fragment—


             bird burning

                           in her flight,


             the all two ways of going—


I didn’t know her yet—


I didn’t know myself.


Annah Browning





Brother of mine, witherso

             thou goest? In the glow


the fallen miles are radiant,

             trees lift their broken arms


up to you—will you not

             come to me, too, as I am


wrenly, clung sideways to

             a branch— this arm that doesn’t


feel. Yellow-throated, impossible—


yes, I have rested here, shook my head

             to the tune of my old


echoes— love the mirror, love

              the mirror—what glances off rocks



Annah Browning

and shadows, yes, this is my estate.


I with the tiny black eyes of an Inheritor,

I do perceive you—climb these hills,


I with you have been wanting—


all shelter, all sheltered—















Copyright © Annah Browning. White Whale Review, issue 3.1

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