Chelsea Dingman

Coda

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.

divider
 

Birthday Eve

Who would you have been,
                                        little sapling,

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