A Common Language

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…

Read the full bio

Issue 17 · March 2013

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