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WHITE WHALE REVIEW
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

***

 

 

 

Chorus:

 

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

 

mouths

mouths

 

 

[....]


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

***

 

 

 

Chorus:

 

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

***

 

 

 

Chorus:

 

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

***

 

 

 

Brother,

 

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

             tongue-lash

 

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

***

 

 

 

Chorus:

 

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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