Late Night Cartography
In my sleep, I invent cities known on no map.
How do I explain where I come from
when it is a place long separated from itself
by snow? How do I explain my father,
his eighth-grade education, his body
like the frozen river running through ghosts
of cities? An immigrant’s child. I map the wind
that pushed him west. I map his fists
before they unclenched in death. I map
his murder. The river, a witness. When I sleep,
he is more than where he came from. The cities
we’ve touched are real. I touch my father’s skin, still
warm. I pretend to know myself. I pretend
the cities aren’t memories of cities. I pretend
I am the beginning my father wanted.
I pretend that the day he went away to work
in another city so that we could eat,
he didn’t cry. Instead, I speak of details:
the earth & sun & snow. The late hours
that last & last. Like winter. I speak
of things as ordinary as air & light. As grief.
But every night in my sleep, I ward off funerals.
I bless my father’s dark skin. Rough hands. I bless
the river’s silt. The hunger-sores. The languages
he couldn’t speak. The yellow sun. This after
-world, where worry is a city we’ve shunned.
In the hush of winter, I thank him for this winter.
This snow covering every city. He is always dying some
-where when I wake. This grief, I’ve carried too long.
O father, forget me. A daughter is the sea. Borderless.
Daring to hold the dark inside. I would stay asleep
if it meant that you’d live. But you ask nothing
of me. All & nothing. All at once.
Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, won the National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press (2017). Nominated for three Pushcart Prizes in 2016, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, Sycamore Review’s Wabash 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, The Colorado Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website: chelseadingman.com.
Yolanda del Amo is a Spanish-born, New York based artist whose work uses photographic composition to illuminate the influences that shape us as individuals and as social beings. Her work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally. She has received multiple awards and grants, such as a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant (2017) and a commendation at the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition (2009) organized by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. Yolanda is currently an Associate Professor for Photography and Digital Media at Ramapo College of New Jersey.