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.
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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