Sarah Browning

The Neighborhood, Changing

In my neighborhood, Black people
are selling up and leaving. Next door,
workers of all colors and voices
are wresting the house from its past,
its smells of preacher Sunday dinners,
the TV on low. The house has details
to yield and secrets to salvage,
but lives have moved off to the suburbs.
The reverend made a bundle, it’s rumored,
and I hope it’s true, that everyone
is happy, even the house, its twinkling
new light fixtures and gloss. But I smell
the ghosts at dawn when sleep taunts me
and the window frames next door groan
and settle, missing their morning prayers.


Sarah Browning is the author of two books of poems: Killing Summer (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017), and Whiskey in the Garden of Eden(The Word Works, 2007), and co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology. Browning is co-founder and Executive Director of Split This Rock: Poetry of Provocation & Witness and an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is the recipient of fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, a Creative Communities Initiative grant, and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. Browning has been guest editor or co-edited special issues of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, and POETRY Magazine. To read more by this author: Sarah Browning: Summer 2004; Sarah Browning: Whitman Issue; Sarah Browning's Intro to The Wartime Issue, Spring 2006; Sarah Browning: DC Places Issue; Sarah Browning: Split This Rock Issue; Sarah Browning: Museum Issue; Sarah Browning on DC Poets Against the War: Literary Organizations Issue; Sarah Browning: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue; Sarah Browning: Floricanto Issue.