The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Leah Browning’s “In the Chair Museum”

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IN THE CHAIR MUSEUM

On Christmas Day, we drove north
to spend the afternoon with friends.

I was homesick for New Mexico
and brought biscochitos in the shape of stars.

We all walked to Montara State Beach
where it was cold and windy and beautiful

and watched the sun set like a piece of golden glass
over the ocean. I couldn’t believe it was truly

December. On the way back to the house
I held his little mitten in my gloved hand.

He was getting older and it felt like the last time
this might happen, like I needed to remember it.

We took the longest route and stopped to look
at strings of Christmas lights in the front yards.

By the time we returned, the men had built
a fire in a metal bowl on the back porch.

Later, after dinner, I looked through a book
with one of the boys, a very thick book about chairs.

He sat close to me on the couch and I wanted time
to stop for a moment so we could go on forever

turning page after page of glossy color photographs
of all the different colors and types of chairs.

Christmas ended, and New Year’s. The book dissolved,
all of it did, as though it had never happened.

A few months later, I dreamed that I was a doll,
walking on my little legs through the chair museum.

Next door was the table museum, and on the other side
of it was the spoon museum, and so on. You get the idea.

The chairs in my museum were very large,
and I felt so small as I walked between them.

I wasn’t sure why I was there, or what I was supposed to be
learning, but I knew that I had to be there for a reason.

So all night, I walked around in my little stockings and
my little black felt slippers with the straps across the tops.

All night, I walked around and around the museum,
peeking up at chairs through my little glass eyes,

certain that all of the answers were right there in front of me
if only I knew where to look.

 

This selection is from Leah Browning’s chapbook, In the Chair Museum, available from dancing girl pressPurchase your copy here!

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens (Capstone Press) and three chapbooks: In the Chair Museum (Dancing Girl 2013),  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, Queen’s Feminist Review, 42opus, The Saint Ann’s Review, Blood Orange Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Brink Magazine, Halfway Down the Stairs, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and Per Contra, 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.  Her personal website is located at www.leahbrowning.com.

 

Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the author of two full-length collections, The Fear of Being Found (Three Candles Press 2008) and The Naming of Strays (Gold Wake Press 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Mid-American, 32 Poems, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Tusculum Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She teaches a bit of everything in the English Department at the University of Tennessee and serves as the managing editor of Sundress Publications and Stirring.

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