Chelsea Dingman

After Fleeing a War in the Second Wave


You ask me how I betrayed my country
by felling the sun. By covering my eyes
when darkness came like crows
wearing peasant capes. When my skin fell

to ruin: ribs, racked & ashen. When my cheeks rose
like stone mountains after a flood
& I failed to stay behind. To fight
with empty chambers, only Rohatyn’s cold

wind to fill my stomach. No ruler to undress
the sky. But there is failure in fleeing.
Like a sparrow, to sift
through beer bottles, crumpled paper,

cigarette packs in a city park in Vancouver
instead of Lviv. For wanting a fetus, jarred
in your womb. The umbilical cord’s
white tendrils floating up to find

their own answers. For forgetting my mother’s
rosary, its beaded chain & cross
tattering a wrist. These prayers
that never leave us. By pulling my feet

from the earth as a moon
holds my next breaths, each train station
that took me further away. But I don’t regret
hunger. How, like grief, it forces us

through a landscape. Like the train’s iron
hands. How we search for bodies
unheld. How, when I pull back
the clouds, there is nothing but sea.

Chelsea Dingman continues her MFA and teaches in the University of South Florida graduate program. In 2016, her work can be found in Washington Square, The Normal School, Phoebe, Harpur Palate, The Adroit Journal, Boxcar, Sou’wester, and Sugar House Review, among others. Her first book, Thaw, was a semifinalist for the Lexi Rudnitzsky First Book Prize for Women and the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. She is originally from Western Canada. You may her website: