‘H’ by Claire Wahmanholm

Here: hold this handful of hail until it hurts. Hold this hog as it howls. Hook its hooves. Hold this hood over its eyes. Hold this hornet in your mouth. Hush, you’re home. How horrible is too horrible? How many holes is too many for a hull? Hold the hen, behead the hen, crush the unhatched chick. This is how it feels to be held, held in a headlock, held hostage in your own house. Would you hack off your hands to escape? Helplessness becomes habit, your habitat, where you feel most at home. Heft the hissing snake around your hips. Hold the hemlock to your lips. Do you feel homesick yet? Here: hold this flag, hold this heirloom handgun, cock the hammer. Is it heavy? Huddle together, hunker down. Here come the hounds. Brace as if for a hurricane. Stop holding out for help. Stop holding your breath. It is an honor to live here. It is an honor to live hamstrung, hand- cuffed to harm. It is an honor to be hopeless. It isn’t hell, it’s holiness. It’s the hill you’ll die on. You saw what happened to the hen. Better to be the hawk; better to be the heron than the herring. It’s your heritage. Is it heavy? Did that headline hurt? Is that history harrowing? Hollow out your heart and pack the hole with hay. Pack it with holly if you miss the sensation of pain. You’ll habituate. You’ll learn to handle the heat, or you’ll be the hog. You’re the horizon, the highway, the hitcher, the hatchet, the stopping car, the house up the road. How far are you going? How far are you willing to go?

Source: Wahmanholm, Claire. “H”. The Anarchist Review of Books, vol. 6, no. 6, June 2023, p. 21.