A. E. Brown

The Wind Laughs Here

Once the air bites, so do the mosquitos
That congregate inside during the autumn months. 
With a Maya Angelou poem, laminated
Held to the beige wall of the trailer by a blue thumbtack
The school seeks to inspire us, 
Or to simply ease the sting 
When picking at skin as dry as the landscape. 
A rust-speckled mirror perches above,
Reflecting limp ponytail, cheap lip gloss,
A reminder as barbed as the fences
That, unlike liquor and country music,
Not all things improve with time. 
The electric hum of the overhead lights
Permeates the stale air with a background static
A twenty-four hour, commercial-free AM station
Broadcasting my story, and the story of all before me
To set foot in these golden fields,
As ancient as time,
Crowned by the snow-capped purple mountains,
Breathing with the spirit of their creator. 
The windows rattle. 
I step outside and the culprit pushes me against the wall, 
And though invisible to me, it smirks. 
The wind laughs here 
Ducking and dodging 
Waking the fields at rest
Tossing dirt into the air with uncontained glee.
Like a sucker punch,
The topsoil fills your eyes nose mouth
Until it runs thick as the blood in your veins,
Every cell dependent, yearning 
Weaned off oxygen until all you need
Is the rich earth of your home.
Air is flighty, but you can depend on the land.
And the wind blows
Past the children riding the Sinclair dinosaur
Their smiles a picture of short-lived innocence,
Past the waitress dressed in red, taking measured breaths as she covers her mouth in paint
Before reemerging to the staring taxidermy and customers,
Past the man behind the post office, with the self-injected vaccine
That kills his dreams but keeps the clay alive.
The wind laughs here. 
You may own nothing,
But this land belongs to you.
It flows in your blood, 
You wear it like a crown. 
And though you may leave this place, 
Part of you will always stay here. 

Hatchet Mountain

On the nights unfettered by clouds of smoke
I have sat on fenceposts, carefully balanced
And listened to the north wind rattling the pines
The crickets singing their song to foreign suns
Watching the heavens light.
Not merely stars, this high on the earth;
Stories are told if you earn them, spelled out,
Whispers from millennia
Spun into a blanket, wrapped around my shoulders, gawky rectangular frame
Beautiful, perhaps, to eyes of earth.
I once dyed my hair the color of the trees-
I’d do it again, if not for the new rules in school-
It was nice, the ephemeral connection to the remaining canopy,
But time took that feeling away,
Just like it did my grandparent’s land,
And now the only fenceposts I have
Frame a quarter-acre lot.
I strain my eyes anyway,
When porch lights flicker
I can make out the stars.
In sunlight I walk light footed,
Airy sensation at my navel;
The cords have fallen and I drift untethered.
Moonlight comes and with it dream-weavers
Spidery little things, I open my ears and mouth to let them in.
They paint pictures against my eyes
Of firepits and the playing of flutes and rivers so choked with salmon you could walk across their backs-
Of ringing axes and wagon wheels turning and earthly reapings watered in blood-
Of great burnings and roadside billboards and trailers on Canyon roads, disjointed, jerking images like films shot with an iPhone six for extra credit, 
Stories of the mountains and the prairies and the golden promise that once was West and the neighbors whose kids were put in foster care-
Repetition, we came from people who were strong.
Recoiling, and yet, I feel something take root.

Eagle As You Were

Eagle, as you were, 
That’s not the way you fly,
Someday you’ll learn the difference 
Between gliding and holding your wings close
Between letting the wind lift you and creating a wind that will not, 
Between the sky and a painted dome, 
Between hope and poison. 
Eagle, as you were,
Born to fly,
Nothing can clip your wings
Besides the choices you make today.

About the Author: A. E. Brown is a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore from Northern California. Her poetry has appeared in The WEIGHT Journal and Ice Lolly Review. In addition to writing, she enjoys dancing, off-roading, and spending time with friends and family.