PoetryIssue 17 | March 2013

A Common Language

by Leah Browning

In the Emergency Room, 
the man at the front desk read questions
off a computer screen.  The woman
whose back had seized up as she tried to lift
a laundry basket, whose husband held
her arm as she took each hunched, painful
step, or the boy whose mother had wrapped
cotton towels around his bleeding wrist. 
When it was our turn, his first question was
Have you eaten anything today?
It was 10:30 at night. In the waiting room,
for a brief time, each family
spoke a different language. We were
our own island, sitting there, but at last
we no longer had to smile and make small talk
and pretend that everything was all right. 
Later, when you were released
from the psychiatric hospital,
one line on your papers read, Anorexia,
in remission
, and I believed
that it would last, that the bear
would never come out of hibernation.
Or, at times, that it had never existed at all.

But that winter, as you gathered your strength,
I could hear it, stirring under the snow. 

About the author

Leah Browning is editor of the Apple Valley Review. Though the journal is a product of her time in Minnesota, she is originally from New Mexico and still longs for the mountains. She has authored three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens. Her third chapbook, In the Chair Museum, is forthcoming in 2013. Browning’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including Broadsided Press, Queen’s Quarterly, Tipton Poetry Journal,  and in several anthologies. Visit her website.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok