With Intersection, her monthly column, celebrated poet Chelsea Dingman enters a place of questions left hanging—of lyric understanding, of addiction, and womanhood, and politics, and death.
Poem with the End of the World We Were Born Into
No one knows how small the smallest life is—C.D. Wright
Tiny filamental structure, a gesture toward the future,
it will take all that we have to keep reaching for
that which time holds away from us.
Ghosts assemble us again tonight. Ungrateful: this
page, white space, window-light. It will not be enough
to write. It will not be enough to rise and praise
the disappearance of all that came before us. The bodies
in beds. The beds in rooms. The rooms not overcome
by illness. The reckless humanity of a home
untouched by crisis. This is the boiling point. Gowned,
the front lines. Look at those you love a last time
in wonder. Look for hair in a drain. Look at the kitchen
floor slick with Fruit Loops and apple juice.
Look for the last word you said in a past
world. Look for yourself in the past. Remember
someone was happy there, once. Remember how it is
to be safe. The body not a culprit, taking us nowhere
someone can follow. Remember, alive was the water
in the dream about the river where someone died
to keep someone safe. Remember safety as the shoe
fitted to someone else’s foot. Remember trust
as a person leading us to water, to fire, to any war
disguised as winter. Will we love the future again?
Will we find ourselves there, separated by glass?
Will we concede that we need others to live? Beyond
this: filament. The violence of an empty stomach. Ghosts
of childhood wonder. All the will this will take.