You Will Soon Enter a Land Where Everything Will Try to Kill You

…into a harbor
Where it all comes clear,
Where island beings leap from shape to shape
As to escape
Their terrifying turns to disappear.
………….Gjertrud Schnackenberg

Inside me you’re an eel, a whipping ghost, a root of sinew leaping
from blackberry to minnow to walnut tree. Your body sleeps
and bucks beneath my body’s sheet: only the idea of you
is visible. I pulse with doorknobs that bob then sink back into
the sea of me, un-graspable.
……………………………………………. Mimicry implies its own necessity:
that you are already prey, and everything out here means you harm.
You are, it does, and I have done nothing to stop it—have, in fact,
done all I can to make it easy for the world to wrap itself around you
and squeeze. I have no plan to keep the chemicals separate
from the lake, the acid separate from the rain, the bird from the glass
that breaks it. Thud. I picture your blood on every brick ledge,
your fingers beneath each sledgehammer. I will imagine your death
in every season—by water in summer, by illness in autumn,
a febrile seizure whenever you close your eyes.
………………………………………………………………….In the world’s rich dirt
I could have planted brambles, clovers. I could have just loved
the earth instead of inventing new ways to hurt. I remember
that half our genome is shared with fruit, more with fish, the most
with ghosts. Your body seems to know this—that jawless fish
cannot be struck by cars, that no one mourns a blackberry crushed
beneath a naked foot. Therefore be deep-dwelling muscle.
Be sweet vegetable a moment longer. Before us lies a fatal,
blossoming desert, full of heat and shadow. I am about to set
my heart down into a wild burrow. A clock is about to start.

Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm is the author of Night Vision (New Michigan Press, 2017), Wilder (Milkweed Editions, 2018) and Redmouth (Tinderbox Editions, 2019). Her poems have most recently appeared in, or are forthcoming from, New Poetry from the Midwest 2019, Copper Nickel, Beloit Poetry Journal, Grist, RHINO, and 32 poems. She lives and teaches in the Twin Cities. Find her online at clairewahmanholm.com
Claire Wahmanholm

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Author: Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm is the author of Night Vision (New Michigan Press, 2017), Wilder (Milkweed Editions, 2018) and Redmouth (Tinderbox Editions, 2019). Her poems have most recently appeared in, or are forthcoming from, New Poetry from the Midwest 2019, Copper Nickel, Beloit Poetry Journal, Grist, RHINO, and 32 poems. She lives and teaches in the Twin Cities. Find her online at clairewahmanholm.com