Imagine time as the presence
of feedback when the value of human life
rises & falls. Imagine there is no one left
to trade a life for patterns in the snow, the dead
cars littered all around us. Fractals of light.
The lake swollen with moons. Imagine
we are all we have. The nights I nursed
more than the hours & the mouths
at my breasts. The nights you went for a run
in subzero temperatures, & didn’t return
to see who we’d become. The hares, stunned
by the cold. Wolves outrunning their shadows
in the near-wild. If only
the heart could be controlled. Imagine
time is all we have. With this cold, & the hills
that rise & fall for miles.
Imagine being warm again.
That only the cold could part us.
A world exists inside exile
that bends us toward
safety. How often we are left
alone. A child is enough
to cure one’s disbelief in nature,
but there is no thrill
like refusing to believe
in the future. Touch
the world: do you feel
your own death
every morning you dare
to live? The moon’s reflection
slaked off the lake. The fear
reflected in the bodies
of the trees, hanging
over the fields.
Everything here is temporary.
Everything here is weather.
Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second poetry collection, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize (University of Georgia Press, February 2020). She is also the author of the chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). Visit her website to learn more.