One morning we woke with bombs in our bellies. We passed our fingers over the raised, tender red of the sutures. Felt how they made mountain chains and riverbeds. We knew there were bombs beneath them because of the ticking. Like a pulse, but not in line with our pulses. Like an enormous cricket we could tell wasn’t alive. Our bellies stayed cold and heavy. When we walked, our feet sank deep in the mud. When we tried to climb trees, the branches broke with a crack, with a tick. No one knew where the bombs had come from. No one knew how to defuse them or what might set them off. We learned to land gently. We stayed calm, made breezy motions, breathed in through our noses and out through our mouths. When the wind blew, we bent with it. When the river dragged us downstream, we tried to make ourselves small and soft around the rocks. After many months of pretending we were dead, someone finally thought to cut the danger out. We watched her press her knife to her belly, watched the knife enter the flesh and come back empty and red. Nothing to remove or prove there had ever been a bomb. Nothing that even bled.




Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm's poems most recently appear in, or are forthcoming from, The Los Angeles Review, Leveler, Fairy Tale Review, Bomb Cyclone, Foundry, Winter Tangerine, Paperbag, PANK, Saltfront, Birdfeast, Bennington Review, The Collapsar, Newfound, and New Poetry from the Midwest 2017. Her chapbook, Night Vision, won the 2017 New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM chapbook contest. Her debut full-length collection, Wilder, won the 2018 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry and is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in November 2018. Her second collection is forthcoming from Tinderbox Editions in the fall of 2019.

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