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Chelsea Dingman



In the evening, a funeral. A bowl

of fake lashes. A plate full of fish

bones & leftover spinach. The moon


in ruins through the window. Bodies

splayed in wild grasses: a snake,

a spider, a Saw Palm—its loneliness, tied


to the short life of the sun. I look for

someone living in me, but my name

estranges me from the hibiscus,


centipedes, streets that measure themselves

by people they’re named for. I asked the gods

for a long life, my first child


in my hands, but I haven’t heard back

& however kind, the night

still blackens everything it touches.


In my mouth: millions of names

for bodies I’ll mourn before I leave

here. But my child doesn’t know


that way a name can estrange us

from the world. The cockroach, upended

in the garage, a cockroach. Still.

Pretenses (marriage: year 20)

Confession: if I close my eyes,

I can pretend my open mouth


wants to be left empty, the afternoon

sun slitted through cracks


in the blinds. I can pretend

I want to give you up, your name


sharpened against my teeth. This mouth,

the last peony in a summer


field. What do we have? I have never asked

to love someone else. I took


what you gave me & made myself

into a storm drain, silenced by afternoon


sun slitted through cracks

in the skies. Confession: I sometimes want


to fight. I want to know I’m not

the wind you shut out completely, forced


to leave & return on someone else’s

calendar. I want to feel less


numb—the sun touching my skin,

briefly, if only to leave a mark.

Chelsea Dingman poems

Chelsea Dingman is a MFA candidate at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, won the National Poetry Series (2016) and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press. 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. Other forthcoming work can be found in Washington Square, The Normal School, American Literary Review, The Adroit Journal, and Sugar House Review, among others. Visit her website:

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