We walked inland. We entered a ruined schoolhouse and stood before the board’s blank sea. No waves. No white. We thought to make a timeline but had already forgotten the beginning. I looked out the empty window at the purple light. No stars. When had that happened? And where was the light coming from? I drew a year that was a white boat on a green sea. I whitened the water with waving arms, then smudged them out. We would drown out here. I could already feel the weight of less and less air. I pressed my palm to the board and felt it shudder. We all pressed our palms to the board and left black five pointed stars that cast no light. Outside, the year went by. Our stars turned beneath purple sky.
We had grown leaky. Our heads were full of fissures that wouldn’t seal no matter how tightly we clamped the jaws of the vise around our temples. Our scalps wept until only the present rattled in our ears, bone dry and rabid. We walked around the corner or we had been walking for years. We entered the same empty house at the end of the same dirt road. In every room I found a yellow almanac under the bed and read the same page, which told me the time that Neptune would rise in the sky, which told me the time that civil dusk would descend. I pressed the almanac to my head. What was time? What was descend? Every time I left the house I took the almanac with me. I slept with it under my rawhide pillow, hoping that while I slept, my head would somehow mend. Every night I dreamed of frost spreading across a ragged field, knitting the furrows with its uniform white.
Claire Wahmanholm's work most recently appears in, or is forthcoming from, New Poetry from the Midwest 2016, Bateau, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Memorious, The Kenyon Review Online, Handsome, Third Coast, Best New Poets 2015, Elsewhere, Winter Tangerine, and DIAGRAM. Find her at clairewahmanholm.com