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.

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