Listen:

 

                           “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.

Illustration by Ansellia Kulikku.

Chelsea Dingman

Chelsea Dingman is a Canadian citizen and visiting instructor at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). In 2016-17, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, The Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, and Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in Ninth Letter, The Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, Cincinnati Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website: chelseadingman.com.