Two poems by Leah Browning


Every evening now I serve you butter chicken
all cream and cardamom on a bed of jasmine rice
with a bottle of Black Sheep Ale imported from England
and later we make love with the lights turned off
for the first time in almost a month
and I don’t know what any of this means
the night that clicks down like a worn but well-loved record
from a happier time even as we sit at the table
with cloth napkins in our laps and warm food
in our mouths that don’t remember how to speak
or how to say goodbye.

Dinner with Mohamoud

He tells a story about arriving in America
during wintertime.  This was a foreign
climate, and winter had been described

in great detail.  He was prepared
for cold, for snow, for icicles
hanging from every branch and rooftop.

In his suitcase, he had a warm coat
and gloves.

The airplane stopped on the way to Minnesota,
landing briefly in San Diego, and he pressed
his face against the small oval of window

for his first glimpse of America.  Outside,
on the tarmac below, people moved about
in shorts and short-sleeved shirts,

their arms and legs bare, their pale skin
impervious to what he could only imagine
were freezing temperatures.

Now, in the restaurant, his eyes are dark
with fatigue.  His sons are in a refugee camp
in Kenya, his wife dead.  But tonight

they are close by, and it is all right to go on
laughing faintly about the nuances of weather,
unaware that we are another year away

from the airport where he will again see his boys,
almost men, their backs unbowed despite the weight
of all these shifts in the atmosphere.

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…

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