How Briefly the Body by Chelsea Dingman


How Briefly the Body

How briefly the body is a story
        where everything matters,

even its name. The oaks outside
        dip & dangle in the wind. Sun

dapples deep-green leaves, ripe
        with spring rain. But in the body, I am

a transient. I’ve had a host of women’s names
        kneel down inside me. When I can’t

name the reasons I listen to rain
        fill me like words on a page, the body

is a story of devotion: it knows the cost of moving
        into morning, asking to be spared

nothing. I asked only to be alive,
        but I can’t know where I’ll find climax,

or if denouement looks like my mother
        kneeling, as she asks for bare skin

to enter like the first bars
        of a hymn. In the body, everything

has an end. I can’t yet know how it is
        to enter morning & be left

with myself—every story I’ve known
        carried off like tree pollen

in the white spring wind. But I enter, however
        briefly. Asking nothing.





Chelsea Dingman continues her MFA and teaches in the University of South Florida graduate program. In 2016, her work can be found in Phoebe, Harpur Palate, The Adroit Journal, Grist: A Journal for Writers, Boxcar, Sou’wester, and The Raleigh Review, among others. She is originally from Western Canada. Visit her website:



Photo Credits:
garryknight via / CC BY
Cia de Foto via / CC BY