The Meadow, The River

Claire Wahmanholm

The meadow unfolded before me,             a soft, uncrossable rot.I tore myself in two along my spine and sent half of me             into the night to see if I would make it through.I waited at the meadow’s black mouth.
What news? I practiced asking the grass,             the shadows of black-eyed Susans, my boots.The gone edge of me felt clean against the wind’s hand.
The gone edge of me felt bright and hot.It was hard to see in the dark with just one eye             but I thought I could see the other half of me             moving slowly across the meadow.Was I waving, or was that just the wind in my hair?
Was I calling, or did the wind just bend itself across my ear?I put my foot down and felt the grass rise around it             like a river. Like the way a lover might rise             from the cold bed of one and pull you under.I couldn’t see anything across the meadow.
I couldn’t blink the blackness from my eyes.In fact there was no meadow.
In fact the river had washed away the grass, the black-eyed Susans,             my leg below the knee.I had sent half of me into that water, and now the gone edge             fevered for its brother.My leg untethered itself, then my shoulder, my lung.
Was it wind or water that rushed over my tongue?

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Claire   Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm is the author of Night Vision, winner of the 2017 New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM chapbook competition. Her poems have appeared in Paperbag, PANK, Waxwing, Bennington Review, The Collapsar, Best New Poets 2015, Kenyon Review Online, and other journals. Her second collection, Redmouth, is forthcoming from Tinderbox Editions in 2019. She lives and teaches in the Twin Cities. (Author photo by Daniel Lupton)

In Wilder—selected by Rick Barot as the winner of the 2018 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry—Claire Wahmanholm maps an alien but unnervingly familiar world as it accelerates into cataclysm. Here refugees listen to relaxation tapes that create an Arcadia out of tires and bleach. Here the alphabet spells out disaster and devours children. Here plate tectonics birth a misery rift, spinning loved ones away from each other across an uncaring sea. And here the cosmos—and Cosmos, as Carl Sagan’s hopeful words are fissured by erasure—yawns wide.

“Full of wonder and bewilderment, cosmic vision and earthly pain.”
—Rick Barot

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