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.