149: Red Rover

149: Red Rover

149: Red Rover

Red Rover
by Claire Wahmanholm

We are placed in a field.

We are told to wield our bodies
against each other

like wrecking balls or rockets,
to target the weakest links

in the chain
of other children’s bodies⏤

the surfaces of skin
that sweat and twitch

without our willing it,
the millimeters of air

between the palms
that cannot be gripped

into disappearance⏤
and shoot them down.

Rove:
to show signs of madness, to shoot randomly,

to wander,
to run someone through with a weapon.

We pool our redness
like wealth until the final soldier

is caught in the net of our hands,
a limp bird.

Red rover, red rover,
there are worlds

whose waves do not break
against the bodies of children.

There are worlds
of wide, stagnant waters.

Red rover, red rover,
send the boats of our bodies

to float in those fields forever.
Send wings for our arms

unspooling between each other
like barricade tape,

gauze for the crime scenes
of our shadows.

If we are unmendable,
weigh our brokenness

with long sleep.
Cast a spell over us

like a sharp sheet.
As ghosts, we float through each other

like soft sheep, bleating.

"Red Rover" by Claire Wahmanholm, from WILDER by Claire Wahmanholm. Copyright © 2018 by Claire Wahmanholm. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions.

149: Red Rover
by APM