Almost a Year After His Suicide
After a glass of wine, it no longer seems possible
that he’s dead. You weren’t close, toward the end
of his life, and it’s been months since he has floated
into your thoughts, unbidden, out of the blue.
Now, sitting on the back porch,
you can remember every line
of his last letter. He had sounded at peace
then, just a few short weeks before.
The wisteria is in bloom, with its thick,
fragrant bunches of lavender flowers,
and the lemon tree is heavy with fruit.
At sunset, the dead seem close by,
present, lingering in your peripheral vision.
And for a moment, in the golden light,
this has to be heaven, because how could anyone
truly be dead, here amidst so much beauty?
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.