B Y   C H E L S E A   D I N G M A N

Chelsea Dingman is a MFA candidate at the University of South Florida. In 2016, her work can be found in Washington Square, The Normal School, Phoebe, American Literary Review, The Adroit Journal, and Sugar House Review, among others. She won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Contest (2016) and her first book, Thaw, won the National Poetry Series competition (2016) and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press. Visit her website: chelseadingman.com.

L A S T   N I G H T   I   K N E W   M Y S E L F 

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

by a different name, now
pulled away like old skin
from the pews in the cathedral, as light
slanted in. All those years I knelt before 
the world, I wasn’t yet yours. All those years 
I ran my fingers over the braided muscle & bones
of a long winter when I was without, you 
didn’t know how it was to be so close
to starving, each jutting hipbone
a small headline as my skin
confessed what it couldn’t hold
inside. To you, I am devout. But  
some mornings in a marriage have teeth. Razor-
wire that catches the skin. Some mornings 
take breaths from us that we cannot  
resurrect. I won’t pretend that it wasn’t brutal
parting with the only thing my father gave
me. I won’t pretend I don’t feel
drained by this loss the way lice slowly drain 
the tender spots behind an ear
to stay alive. What does a woman own,
if not her name? I walk
our lawn in Florida, a thousand blades
of grass so thick we have to wear sandals
to avoid being cut. I want to name them all
before rain comes. But when I’m done,
will I remember the first name 
I screamed into the wind as if I could stop
the wind from answering?