Coventry by Eliza Browning

Summer again like a switchblade in my throat. 
We were girls then, gamboling in glades thick 

and honey-sweet with clover. All of it belonged to us: 
the dusky purple scent of the tobacco fields, 

the cicadas buzzing in the chest-high grass, 
the sleepless meadows only our feet tread. 

We rinse the lake water from our hair 
and dream long dreams of drowning. 

The day Adelma Simmons died all the flies 
hung still in the air like raindrops before the falling. 

The next August my father went up to Caprilands
for the auction. Estate sale jumble of cookbooks

and broken crockery, rusted farm equipment, 
barns standing empty in the neighboring field. 

My grandmother’s neighbor tells us Adelma played
at witchcraft, spiced her cooking with herbs, conjured

water from the dry tongues of creek beds, but we banish
the thought, laugh and cast spells of our own devising. 

When we were young we liked the in-between places best, 
the drainage ditch and the stone foundation snarled 

with briars, the orchard dying in midsummer’s grasp. 
Out of the ruins of our kingdom we teethed our riches:

our carriage horse the bleached bones of a deer, 
crowns of milkweed and monarchs’ wings.

Power lines sparking like proverbial lightning storms.
We caught ladybugs in pill jars and peeled leeches

from our bare legs like snakes loosening their skin.
Tongues: in, out. The crabgrass scabbing over

the wellhouse field, flashlit with the yellow summer.
In the distance, the trains following each other home. 


Eliza Browning studies English and art history at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Her work has been recognized by the YoungArts Foundation, the Fitzgerald Museum and the Poetry Society of Virginia, among others. She currently co-edits Rushlight, the oldest campus literary magazine in the United States, and reads poetry for the COUNTERCLOCK Journal.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.