OCCUPATION, BY CHELSEA DINGMAN
This isn’t love, I keep telling myself. The body,
an interrogation room that I will never leave.
I used to be magic. I conjured leaves from a grotto
to compare levels of pain. I starved myself
sightless. I gave up all that I knew of being a woman
in order to be loved. I refused any answer
that began with suffering. I pushed my body away
when I was afraid. You were close to me, then. You watched
as I fell from myself when I couldn’t keep other people
alive. I conjured a body that kept you near. I have to tell you:
nothing saved me from believing in the future. The photos
gathering time. The bones assembling me. Like fire,
the body may be indivisible, but only if we love it
a little. Here, the enemy of the state is the new child
who sleeps in a swing next to me, the morning
breaking in through the windows. The truth is:
I don’t think I’ll ever be enough for anyone.
The truth is: it shouldn’t hurt to be held.
Chelsea Dingman's first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second book, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize (University of Georgia Press, 2020). Other writing can be found in The Southern Review, The New England Review, and The Kenyon Review, among others.