By Chelsea Dingman
I open the windows to the house—humid
air like a deer’s breaths in the spring
rain. Streetlights flit off & on. Sparrows
sing in their own language.
If they know sorrow, they can’t say.
But others died in other countries
while I slept. Fled their homes. Said good-bye
to loved ones as words turned to fable
in basements & bunkers, burned off
by false light. Everything is temporary.
The lamp. The memory. The dream of a father
that surfaces down a long tunnel
in the mind. In the rhythm of rain, my father is
the mandolin I never learned
to play, leaned against this hour. The quiet
labour of the lantern. The dark
hallway where doors rarely open. This morning
I’ve lived already. The sirens.
The sky, thick with feathers. The same
sky my father saw, perhaps,
singing to a shore sixty wars from here.
The rain unravels the ground some-
where, bearing a father or child or song
& I don’t know what life is. I search
the rooms of my body. Tear apart
this house. The animal light tells me
I haven’t been touched for too long. The rain
I coax into my throat, but don’t swallow.
It falls silently, down. Over the wounded sea,
the stone, the Cypress trees.
First published in The American Poetry Journal Issue 16, 2018