Back to Issue Twenty-Three.

morning Benedictions with Dead Baby Syndrome

BY CHELSEA DINGMAN

after Rachel Mennies

     Dear sadness—,    send me away.       Settle
in the sycamore                       trees,                the sky,
    the nettles     on the branches            outside.

   The night is the closest chapel.                I light
a candle on my tongue,                        turn myself to glass.
In the wheat fields of the western plains,          I welcomed you

like wind.         Now the dead urge me on.      The sky,
      a shroud.              o battered stars         o calculating night       
be gone—,       grief is an exercise        the hours grew in me.

Sunscape,         signofhope,      solipsistic silkworm—, knit me           
    a new body to praise.        In my mind           heaven is full
of paupers in paper gowns.       Is that where you’ll condemn

the baby I can’t keep?         I would be troubled
    that this house                      is burning,        except I like fire
for its need.      This is regret, not sadness.        This dull affect.

This empty well           that fills with filthy water
    inside me.    Inside me: a portal.      A wonder
of the world.                A squatting saint.          Huntress I was

once, I swallowed              the winter sun            & met myself
    in the mouths                       of ghosts.         My mother calls
but I don’t answer.                My husband hands me

his sadness       like an old suit jacket,              takes too many
    Ambien,                   hopes not to wake.            & this
electric grief—,                        I speak for all of us now.      We’re only

as useless as you make us
.         Praise sound.       The smallest
    lyric.        The way we use the dead      to live.

 

 

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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 the Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in Ninth Letter, the Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, the Cincinnati Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website: chelseadingman.com.

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