Issue FiveIssue Five PoetryPoetry

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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