From the archives – On the Drive Back to Durango, I Wake Up in Taos — Leah Browning


On the Drive Back to Durango, I Wake Up in Taos

Immediately, the landscape is wrong,
all shades of brown, and you are sheepish,
sure that you must have missed a sign

or two. I am on my way back to college
after a break, and I am furious to find myself
still in New Mexico, off in the wrong direction,

when I should already be in Colorado,
sitting at my desk, studying for exams.
I want to go back to that moment now, to be

the girl I once was, in those months before we married.
I would tell you, “It was a harmless mistake.”
I would tell you, “It could have happened to anyone.”

We would leave the car and walk through the streets
holding hands. I want to superimpose this image,
obscuring the one where the girl takes the wheel

and turns them around, driving away from the unexpected
city with a mouth as sour as vinegar.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 5 — by Leah Browning

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Paris by Leah Browning


Every day now we wake
in an unexpected hotel room.

Will this be the afternoon
in Paris, with birds singing

in the courtyard
below our window?

Or, more likely, will we find ourselves
somewhere else entirely. Most days,

the room is either too hot
or too cold, or an unsettling

combination of both;
the sun angles in through

ill-fitting curtains, or
we’ve been woken in the night

by loud, frightening noises:
fists pounding on a door, sirens.

It’s too late or too early,
and we’ve traveled too long;

it’s the night I was pregnant
and we were moving cross-country,

or the morning after any sleepless,
swollen night. The headache

won’t go away, or we’re back in
Toronto, in the hotel with the

wedding reception down the hall
from our room, the blaring music

and the fight that went on so long
that someone called the police.

There are so many bad days.
Every morning, though, I wake up

hoping for just one more golden afternoon
(so lovely and heartbreaking),

for sunlight in the courtyard
and birdsong.

by Leah Browning

Editor’s Note: The short stanzas and line breaks help keep the yearning in this poem to a manageable level. This is a lovely example of how the form of a poem can complement the content.