top of page

two poems

by Chelsea Dingman

Gathering Feverfew

By which I mean the migraines will not recede

while we speak little, or not at all,

the irritation of heat rising from buckled

streets. Some violence is so casual

we can’t claim it while it is happening. Instead,

sky fills our mouths as the birch trees

sprout wings. Still, you say nothing

about your mother dying alone in a hospital

bed after you speak to her over video

chat, our children chasing the day’s end

on the tails of dragonflies. How our last baby was born

afterward, as the migraines increased. You don’t have to tell me. And yet,

we touch forehead after forehead, flies

flitting from one surface to another—

mouths upon mouths falling

open. As we don’t speak of the chew in your cheek

or what it means that your sign is cancer

or the coffee burning in the kitchen when my brother goes

missing. We don’t speak at all

of sightlessness, the nausea brimming in me, the river that offers

the trees asylum, the field where your mother’s ashes

were buried, my family history of strokes, train tracks

overlooking the river where I used to run

when I had nowhere after my father died, anxieties

of this ordinary life that is given

to failure. If suffering is a story of will,

we don’t ask what anyone deserves. Instead, you take me

to the field, brimming with fever

-few. It’s believed that certain cures for pain

can make you sicker, you say. The heat hovers above us.

My eyes, unseeing. A thousand eyes rise

from the field, & all that I can’t see

becomes reprieve. The sun in its fever,

husking us into dusk.

Etiology of Disappearance

Greed of the fir

trees in spring. Aflame

with mid-afternoon light. Transposed onto lake:

what death did I want

twice? Confusing snowmelt

for desire. Licking the lake-bottom. Is pain the trope, or just

a shadow, dressed in boy’s clothes? Destitute

when laying down. Not unlike my father

who stole the aspect & orientation

of a plot

as the lake laid down in him. The opposite of flight:

diagnosis. Where I store all things

worth dying for. If I have to gain

the future, let it be slow. I can’t bear

to sleep

yesterday: my daughter,

squatting on a storm

drain, listening to late snow

wash past



Chelsea Dingman's first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second poetry collection, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize (University of Georgia Press, 2020). Her third collection, I, Divided, is forthcoming from Louisiana University Press in 2023. She is also the author of the chapbook What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). Visit her website:


bottom of page