“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.