The world buckled.
The children awoke and I lay them back down, belly up.
I lay the turnips back down, the fretful tulips.
I covered them again in dirt.
When I stood outside and faced west, I felt salt
from the dead ocean gust toward me like gnats or rain.
When the earth lurched again, the garden broke open
for good. Bed after bed spat out its bulbs,
the children spat out their teeth into their hands.
They wouldn’t be resown.
I used to watch for deer, but they have disappeared.
When I close my eyes I can see them
licking the coats of their fawns, anchoring
their spots to their fur to their bodies to the forest floor.
The children’s hair lies dewy on the hillocks of their heads
until shreds like cornsilk come off in the breeze.
All night I collect flowers from beneath the bare trees.
215 The Paris-American
Claire Wahmanholm is the author of Wilder, winner of the 2018 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, and Night Vision, winner of the 2017 DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press chapbook competition. Her poems have also appeared in The Los Angeles Review, PANK, Waxwing, the Bennington Review, Kenyon Review Online, and New Poetry of the Midwest, among others. She lives and teaches in the Twin Cities.