Hunger [or the last of the daughter-hymns]

Chelsea Dingman

i.   (n) a feeling discomfort of weakness caused by a lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat—

so I talk to wind winnowing my ribs into wind
   chimes. I swallow small coins from the counters,
wanting change my body can keep. I stand

   on the street corner in the rain & coax water
into my mouth like a woman who doesn’t know
   the fullness of the sea. My mother worked

three jobs to feed our family. Now, I horde
   toilet paper & paper towel in spare closets
with cans of soup & creamed corn. The wind

   hollows the oaks. Their bones don’t know
what it is to break, but I am a hollow
   instrument, a sacred text. Daughter [less].

ii.   (v) have a strong desire or craving for

a body inside my body—
a child, a man.

Fields, full. The sun,
aflame. Fear like a shot

-gun, an aborted flight
plan, people jumping

from buildings. But
my daughter, I draw back

down. The one I lost.
The ones I have left

to lose. Like snow—
the bodies that are ours

for a season. For less.

iii.   (v) to feel or suffer through lack of food

                        the weak sunrise

in my daughter’s new

                                    silence. My skin, a loose

sheet. Her clavicle, hip

                                                -bone, head. My cervix,

thinned. Her body, an offering. A prayer

         I whisper as I tear

                                 new maps in a lucid dream

where I live alone

         & she folds herself into a crane

                                 to hang from the ceiling

of someone else’s womb.

from Issue 28.2, winner of the Wabash Prize in Poetry


CHELSEA DINGMAN is a MFA candidate at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, won the National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press (2017). In 2016, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Auburn Witness Prize, Arcadia’s Dead Bison Editor’s Prize, Phoebe’s Greg Grummer Poetry Award, and Crab Orchard Review’s Student Awards. Her forthcoming work can be found in Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, and Third Coast, among others. Visit her website: chelseadingman.com.