Leah Browning
Halfway Through the Biography of Anne Sexton

Things begin to fall apart. The kids are sick, the car's engine won't turn over, all the light bulbs are breaking. My fingers swell in the night. It's the salt, the sugar, the heat— but it seems symptomatic of some larger failing.
Autumn. It's been raining for days and days, and she's back in the hospital again—is it the third time, the fourth? I can't help thinking of the skirts she used to wear, the position of her hand on the banister, all the secret codes and signs.
The old life—the two of them holding hands on the porch, children running on the summer grass— did it all melt like ice under the smoldering weight of the words in her head? Or did it ever exist at all?
Outside, the rain falls heavily, like sparrows striking the roof. Her body is so slight, so fragile— and yet we are all silent, standing here in the dark, waiting once more for even a hint of breath, or a soft rush of wings.

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens (Capstone Press) and two chapbooks, Picking Cherries in the Española Valley (Dancing Girl Press, 2010) and Making Love to the Same Man for Fifteen Years (Big Table Publishing, 2009). Browning's fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have previously appeared in a variety of publications including Queen's Quarterly, 42opus, and Tipton Poetry Journal, as well as on a broadside from Broadsided Press, on postcards from the program Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf, and in several anthologies. In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review and daydreams about big boxes of chocolate truffles. You can find her personal website at