It’s winter again. I cover my palm
trees with sheets to keep them
warm. I hear you
in the howl of the fields
when the temperature falls
forty degrees in a few hours. Why, god,
didn’t you warn me that a mother is
not the wind, but the window? I called you
mother once. I asked you to stay
close. In the barn, newly pregnant, I kneel
in the new silence of a coffin
-born calf & suture the calf inside
its dead mother. I prayer the body
back to its beginning. I gave you
a daughter last year. The grieving field,
stiff with frost. I have not died
once, I tell myself. But it’s a lie. A daughter-
hymn I bury inside.
Who would you have been,
had you lived? I want to tell you
about grass pushing up through
the ground without bidding. Are you
the daughter I fold in my gut?
A paper crane I placed on water
in a windstorm? The razor’s whisper
across my wrists? Would you have grown
taller than your father, as I did,
a country away from your mother?
In my gut, bones & teeth.
A barrette. Your lashes, feathers
fallen into seams between
my ribs. Evidence that I was
a mother. Gutted, now,
I am this daughterhouse: hallways, mirrors, tile
floors. You are an echo I can’t trace
back to the source. Is it a comfort
that you won’t age, after what I’ve seen
here? This world, unhinged. O, unhinge
my breaths. The ground below
the ground is what I hunger.
Chelsea Dingman is an MFA candidate at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, won the National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press (2017). In 2016, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Auburn Witness Prize, Arcadia’s Dead Bison Editor’s Prize, Phoebe’s Greg Grummer Poetry Award, and Crab Orchard Review’s Student Awards. Her forthcoming work can be found in Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, and Third Coast, among others. Visit her website: chelseadingman.com