Chelsea Dingman is a Visiting Instructor at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, won the National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press (2017). In 2016, she also won The Southeast Review's Gearhart Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Auburn Witness Prize, Arcadia's Dead Bison Editor's Prize, Phoebe's Greg Grummer Poetry Award, and Crab Orchard Review's Student Awards. Her forthcoming work can be found in Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, and Third Coast, among others. Visit her website:

Previously in Glass: A Journal of Poetry: How to Build a Reliquary From the Earth

Chelsea Dingman

Prayer After Migration & Miscarriage

Forgive the lives I've taken without lifting a finger I traveled here from another kingdom aching under snow my mother's promises feathering men like the ghosts of her fingers but I know the lies in land that leads to more land I know how a woman lies when it's easier to leave my belly hollow now I welcome the ache of palm trees beaten by wind no days already past can make the halved moon whole once I was not a failed mother not bereft of country not divided from my skin by a swarm of one-winged buzzards waiting to lick ash from the walls of my womb call me daughter wife sister call me British Columbian call me orphan the child I long is the hum of rain on the roof the aching sun staked to the sky like a burning flag the warm Gulf water calls to me she holds the name of the child I gave her wombs of ash & soot salt that feathers my fingers but doesn't wash away she surges & calls me home but where is a woman home if not in her own bones?

This poem is about the female body: how little control a woman has over her own fertility and how generations of women have been taught to elevate themselves through their relationships with men and childbirth. What happens to a woman who doesn't have those things? What is the consequence? I had a miscarriage a few years ago and I was living between continents (Canada, Sweden, and the US) and I felt utterly unmoored. In this poem, the speaker cannot find a geographical home, after migrating to a new country, so the body becomes the only home she has. The only home her child has. And when her body fails her, she is lost.

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