PRIMER FOR THE SMALLER THINGS

Understand this: that a city in its beauty
can resurrect an empire, a monument to its fallen.
Understand that the only thing temporary

is the small drama of people and furniture and
life is transitory at best. How can it be, when 
a person is nothing but a series of expectations?

It is the smaller things that move me now. 
In blue drawing rooms at the end of summer,
the curling rose petal, the shadow of the glass.

The dying insect on the sill, locked tight in
its own body. What it means by clocks 
which have stopped their hands. Brushstrokes:

a cup of wine, piano keys. The painted face
of a girl. Once long ago my ancestors lived
by canals. They measured time in tablespoons,

in ledgers, in saucers, in keys. Maybe their
gaze tracked the trajectory of a hovering moth. 
Maybe they tired of ships with their fluttering 

wings. On the wallpaper, in carriages, men 
and women circle stiffly under the elms. 
Beyond, a windmill’s door, opening. 

Maybe this is what it means to be alive 
on earth, alive on earth and nothing more.


ELIZA BROWNING is a first-year English and Art History student at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. She is a 2018 graduate of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program and a 2019 YoungArts Winner in Writing. Additionally, her work has been recognized by Hollins University, the Connecticut Poetry Society, the Eunoia Review, and The Rising Phoenix Review, among others.