* Claire Wahmanholm *


No dreams. I am always awake.

This has made time strange
in a way I cannot name. I cannot
name the number of breaths
I have taken here. Whether
they could fill a single
balloon or many millions.

The thought of the balloons
and my lungs filling them
is not a thought
but a hallucination. Like one
you would get from breathing in
a mild poison or standing
for too long under the sun.

There have been others:
dark birds darting into caves
that disappear when I face them.
A human shape waiting for me
in the middle of a road
I am not on. Waves calling
my name across the gray desert.

I still see the balloons near
the horizon, rising and setting
like moons. Somewhere
on this planet is the machine
that moves them. If it is my lungs,
if their gears can be rusted,

then may a herd of dreams appear
on the shore of the desert,
their mouths soft on my hands
and my breath softening inside them.

Claire Wahmanholm’s poems have most recently appeared in, or are Claire Wahmanholmforthcoming from, The Kenyon Review Online, DIAGRAM, TXTOBJX, Winter Tangerine, Third Coast, Best New Poets 2015, and Handsome. She lives in the Twin Cities, and is the managing editor of Quarterly West. Visit her at clairewahmanholm.com.

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