Every minute or so, a hallelujah
dies in someone’s mouth. Every minute or so, a gunshot.
              A ceasefire. A tire shreds

                            on the highway, & pieces flit like sparrows
across the sky. Silly me. I thought
                                                                            we were here to live.

              The garden’s hallelujahs: tulips & rhododendrons, alive
in the ground. We expect so much
                                           of life. Once, I was a child. Then, a child

                            was locked inside me. Now, a different
country claims us. Tie my hands
              to the wind. Strip my mouth of any country

                                                                            that doesn’t fit. Sorrow the sparrow’s
steel cord & textile torso. Its irrational wings.
                                           The problem with flying is most people

                            settle for land, no matter how often
we are unloved by land.
                                           Rewind the centuries:

                            before planes, the accidents of a gun,
or mouth, or gentle morning, how many people
                                           believed they could fly? Breaking gravity,

              what names did they cry when they took that first step
away? Listen to me. I’m telling you
                                                                            what only the wind knows—

                            here, the sparrows were, all along. Nailed
to their species. Alive, or not
                                           alive. Sometimes, not alive at all.


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About Chelsea Dingman

Chelsea Dingman
Chelsea Dingman is a Canadian citizen and Visiting Instructor at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). In 2016-17, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, The Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, and Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in Ninth Letter, The Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, Cincinnati Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website: chelseadingman.com.