poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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.

Notes on Inheritance

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

                                                           

When I see wax, I think of submission.

I think of afterlife. I think of the sky
& what it leaves behind. I used to think

myself a doe, then a hurricane. The muscle
inside the tongue. The prayer-sore. Again

& again, something foreign. Fugitive. So briefly

I was a girl. A young woman. A mule, mother, arm-
rest—the sky resting on a bridge overlooking

the river. That cold, cold water. I waded in,
three seconds to numb. & nothing. I can’t give in

to love. What will become of us

when it’s the child that is imagined?
Our gods: the fields under a haze

of mosquitoes. And lo, the stars’ white
fire. And lo, the splintered spines of spruce

trees. And lo, the disappearing hours.

I stretch my neck into the next life.
I breathe in the cherry blossoms & bomb-

scent of aftermath. I don’t care why
I didn’t want this. I lean into myself.

I take what is offered until I forget

I am what is offered. With the orchard
& the apple I didn’t name. There is

an hour that bears my grave already.
It’s late. I can’t help but wish I wasn’t

lonely. That I wasn’t made to disappear.

Originally published in Guernica. Copyright © 2018 by Chelsea Dingman. Used with the permission of the author.

Originally published in Guernica. Copyright © 2018 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

A mournful voice sings to quick beats
in my head, but I know nothing of heaven. In a frenzy

of whirling wind, headlights on a white wall, I pull
over the truck. Late April & the sky has broken
its neck. I swear I see faces pass the windshield. The howl

of voices I’ve forgotten in the

poem

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

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.