For My Son: A Forest of Stars
we give up our country to give you
a country of your own. You can’t have
my eyes, but we’ll speak
with the same tongue.
you’ll hear sand in my voice
when searching for what is lost
onshore. I want you to have the truth,
but truth is as seductive as a storm
settling over the earth. Many nights,
my mother cried in another room.
I heard lashing. I saw fire—
how scalded skin, to some, is
love. I hope you don’t need to pray
for cinderblock walls. For the sky’s colours to steal
our words. You can’t yet know
that men can be bent
like branches. That women must kneel
too often, their eyes on the red shore
behind. There is a moment when I touch you
and you are real, not a shadow
of shed skin as we turn to dust
on the hardwood. If you go somewhere
without me, my face candling
into melted wax, you must understand—I fell
in love while we were falling, the devil
wind tearing at my mouth and nose.
All I could do was smile.
When you step away, look
at the ground I’ve given you. Dig
until your shovel hits
the trees’ twisted roots, spring
water gurgling below. This is the proof:
our hands on these shafts,
my words held in your mouth
like stars that forget
they have to fall.
Chelsea Dingman continues her MFA and teaches in the University of South Florida graduate program. Her work is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, So to Speak, The Adroit Journal, Grist: A Journal for Writers, The MacGuffin, Quiddity, and The Raleigh Review, among others. Her first book, Thaw, was a semifinalist for the Lexi Rudnitzky First Book Prize for Women and The Philip Levine Poetry Prize (2016).