Things I Never Give Myself Permission to Say – Michigan Quarterly Review

Things I Never Give Myself Permission to Say

“Things I Never Give Myself Permission to Say,” by Chelsea Dingman, appears in the Winter 2019 Issue of MQR.

It’s fall, & my mother meant to die. Gallons of wine & cartons of cigarettes                                                    amount to suicide.

Reincarnation means that life is another thing to fear.

Here, war is a distant star that masses of people fell into, but no one sees.

Land, nor fire, nor chemicals have loyalty.

When I was nine, at my father’s funeral, the priest said ashes to ashes,                                                                before we opened the bag and let him spill from our hands into the morning                                                               light.
What I heard was: look at the sky. Heaven is on fire.

I want to shave half my head & staple my tongue to the back of my throat, but it would make too many people happy.

Barely fall, I gave birth to my son as the planes hit the towers on TV                                                                            & I didn’t know if I wanted him to live.

I am as far as invention & you are as far as memory, Susan Stewart writes                                                                     in “Yellow Stars & Ice.” Am I the absence of loss? Or the loss itself?

My father said, take care of your brothers, the last time I saw him, sitting in                                                                   his truck,                                                                                                                                                                                  staring down the barrel of thirty-five.

The cattle at a ranch remind me of fathers. Their sobs as the brand bites                                                                     into their flesh.

I keep thinking of what I would say to my children in a letter.                                                                                     What words I would leave them with.

I was here. I loved you. Some days, it wasn’t enough.

Purchase MQR 57:5 or consider a one-year subscription. This poem appears in the Winter 2019 Issue of MQR.

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