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About this poet

Chelsea Dingman is the author of Thaw (University of Georgia Press, 2017), which was selected by Allison Joseph as a winner of the National Poetry Series. She teaches at the University of South Florida and lives in Tampa, Florida.

Here, the Sparrows Were, All Along

Every minute or so, a hallelujah
dies in someone’s mouth. Every minute or so, a gunshot.
            A ceasefire. A tire shreds

                        on the highway, & pieces flit like sparrows
across the sky. Silly me. I thought
                                                we were here to live.

            The garden’s hallelujahs: tulips & rhododendrons, alive
in the ground. We expect so much
                                    of life. Once, I was a child. Then, a child

                        was locked inside me. Now, a different
country claims us. Tie my hands
            to the wind. Strip my mouth of any country

                                                that doesn’t fit. Sorrow the sparrow’s
steel cord & textile torso. Its irrational wings.
                                    The problem with flying is most people

                        settle for land, no matter how often
we are unloved by land.
                                    Rewind the centuries:

                        before planes, the accidents of a gun,
or mouth, or gentle morning, how many people
                                    believed they could fly? Breaking gravity,

            what names did they cry when they took that first step
away? Listen to me. I’m telling you
                                                 what only the wind knows—

here, the sparrows were, all along. Nailed
to their species. Alive, or not
alive. Sometimes, not alive at all.

Originally published in Four Way Review. Copyright © 2017 by Chelsea Dingman. Used with the permission of the author.

Originally published in Four Way Review. Copyright © 2017 by Chelsea Dingman. Used with the permission of the author.

Chelsea Dingman

Chelsea Dingman is the author of Thaw (University of Georgia Press, 2017). She lives in Tampa, Florida.

by this poet

poem

                 “This is the only kingdom.
                 The kingdom of touching:
                 the touches of the disappearing, things.”
                                            —Aracelis Girmay

                                                           

poem

What does it mean to say we know the properties
of ice, of snow? The wheat berries piled in metal bins

in the silos. The house on a corner lot, properly
broken down, the septic tank leaking

into the closets for years, rats in the attic, box
upon box upon box of belongings that belong

poem
	Church of the Holy Spirit, Rohatyn 1924

You enter to escape
the cold & find a canvas of St. John,
                  his hands unsealed

to write. Other icons,
painted in vibrant reds, mounted
                  on wooden walls’ slick gloss. All white

men, suffering and suffered. Christ,
stripped.