Elegy for My Child

 

It didn’t take long for you
to go missing. I roll over
and tap the window. Each fat whisker
of rain stains the glass black,
a skinny-streamed feather. Once,
your body was so small
we couldn’t wrap you tight enough
in a blanket. How you howled to return
to a womb. Sometimes, when pregnant, I wondered
how long I could hold you inside
before my skin’s heft would falter.

What do I do with this rain
drilling the roof like nails into planks?

I’d gladly give up this night,
close my eyes to forget your cries
are an ocean. This ache isn’t
the ache I imagine when I think about losing you
in the grocery store, running madly
between aisles, shallow panes, registers. Outside,

the house cranes
its neck into the sky, wind
hurling itself against the frame.
It shudders, body stripped bare, standing
empty to face the street.

 

Current

 

I ask if we’re still
friends, our second child between us
in the bed. Spent,

someone I can’t dream has left
this body, a cathedral squandered
where mountains fall flat at our feet. I look back
on ruins, the sky galaxying south, always

pulling away from the earth
as if it knows better. Suffering is faithful
work. We kneel, our mouths

closer to the ground than the sky. Maybe
our child is the window
and we are merely walls. Our parents have been
lost to us like rainfall is lost
to the dry earth in drought, red sun

bleeding in brushstrokes. This house is
a wild forest now. There is no city. Reaching for pine
trees in your steel-dark eyes, the taste of

rain in your mouth, I begin
the dutiful act of drowning
in everything not yet lost

like water.


Chelsea Dingman is a Canadian citizen from the Pacific Northwest who studies poetry and teaches at the University of South Florida in the graduate program. She has published poetry in The Adroit Journal (forthcoming), Grist: The Journal for Writers (forthcoming), RHINO Poetry Journal, Yemassee, Mom Egg Review, OVS, Slipstream, Stone Highway Review, and Vermillion Literary Project.

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