“Rooms, Atoms” by Claire Wahmanholm

Claire Wahmanholm


It hurts to go through walls, it makes you
sick but it’s necessary.
—Tomas Tranströmer

You used to vomit afterward, but now
you only need to lean against the bricks
and breathe in through your nose and out
through your mouth, imagining the scent
of marigolds. You hardly even dry heave
anymore. You’ve gotten better.
                                                The sun augments
the mild smell of mold and drywall in your hair.
You swipe the brick dust from the corners
of your eyes and, turning, stare at the wall
you busted through just now. You hardly left
a dent, but through the unobtrusive crack
your eyes construct the room
                                              you left behind,
its fussy demarcations—all its shutters, doors,
and curtain walls, its knobs and locks.
You’d gotten sick of rooms and their implicit
separateness, and leaning against a wall
one afternoon, you’d toppled through a foot
or two of brick and fell into the outside air,
crumbs of lime lining your eyelashes.
You were sick on the sidewalk.
                                                But today,
realization rings in your ears. You might,
at any moment, melt into the center of the earth
and settle into slag at its core. Or other things
might melt into you.
                                  Breathing is difficult with all
the leaves in your lungs. Do your best to ignore
the dust turning to mud in your mouth, the rocks
tumbling into gems inside your bladder, the grass
sprouting from your kidneys, the sun exploding,
painlessly, into the chambers of your heart.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
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