Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 9 . . .

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens.  Her fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in Queen's Quarterly, 42opus, Autumn Sky Poetry, Tipton Poetry Journal, Clapboard House, Boston Literary Magazine, and several anthologies. In addition to writing, she serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review.  Her personal website is located here.


     by Leah Browning

After all the months of anticipation and dread,

instead of handing out questions, the teacher

claps her hands and lets us go home, our

sharpened number two pencils hanging uselessly

at our sides, the exam permanently postponed.

All around us, other couples busy themselves

with work, their backs bent over their desks,

while we sneak away with our A and a letter

of congratulations.  I’ve taken the test before,

I explain to everyone I know.  I know what

labor is like.  I’ve answered every question, more

than once.  Honestly, I remember every excruciating

second.  They don’t seem to mind.  They smile

and talk of other things, while I comfort myself

with thoughts of irreparable scars, of creeping ten painful

steps to the bathroom (hunched over for fear of jerking

out staples and spilling blood and cut muscle onto

the floor); I remember the tube of the catheter, and the

moment in the operating room when the doctor finally

untangled the baby, and my arms were too weak to lift.

© 2008 Leah Browning