The first morning, I woke up feverish, shaking.
It was the thinnest filament of pain, drawn tight

over my left breast. I ran from tree to tree,
hewing to the shadows, my knife at my side.

The dogs followed, their paws as soundless
as my boots on the leaves and needles

of the forest floor. We emerged into daylight,
at the edge of the old limestone quarries,

looking for the blocks that were used to build
the towering cathedrals of an unknown city.

The tunnel from the crypt to the hospital was already
obstructed. Three years later, he flew to St. Petersburg.

For 100 rubles, a woman dressed as a Russian empress
offered to pose for photographs with tourists.

A man in the street was trying to sell cans of caviar
out of a gym bag. The man at the door had had the same one

when he arrived to pack the house, hours late, disheveled
and sweating whiskey. Still, I let him in because I needed

the help. We were picking the pinkest crabapples
and holding them out in our palms, waiting for horses.

On the last day in Minnesota, we loaded the remaining
boxes into the truck and drove north to Canada.


Leah Browning

Leah Browning

Leah Browning is the author of three short nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens and four chapbooks.  Her fiction and poetry have appeared in publications including Queen’s Quarterly, Bluestem Magazine, 300 Days of SunChagrin River ReviewFiction SoutheastWaypoints, The Literary BohemianNebo, Glassworks Magazine, and Mud Season Review; on a broadside from Broadsided Press; on postcards and bookmarks from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf; with audio and video recordings in The Poetry Storehouse; and in several anthologies. Browning was born and raised in New Mexico. She has lived in both the United States and Canada.