Where confusion finds you, burnt up
hangar, shackled to this vagrant snow.
Where we drive a snowless road. Where
winter lands inside you. Where we are lost.
Where little avalanches are known
only by the ground that moves
four thousand feet below. Where the west
used to begin & end with us. What skyline
did you hope to reflect? In your last fight,
I saw the twitch in your hand. The fist
driven through the bones in your face.
The cartilage floating free in the fluid
on your brain, I imagined. The tin
ringing in your ears will never leave
you. Hopelessness is a marriage of light
& dark. Again, someone you fought has killed
himself. Was the belt at his throat a religion?
Our heroes: bright as emergency rooms.
Who did you become while I looked past you?
Only the past remembers now. Fight. Run.
Train. All verbs meaning love is hard.
Hurt means I feel your pain. Where love starts.
Where in your brain the past aches.
Wanting to be anything else, the sky
disguises itself as weather,
& I hesitate to call myself woman
when some man online says he wants
to shoot me dead for wanting a woman
president, the scope of his rifle
an argument I will finally lose for lack
of language, however much I refuse
to believe that language doesn’t hold all
meaning. I refuse to be that passive
willow standing in a field of snow, the blue
horizon surviving below-zero
temperatures. I refuse the stink of future days
like a wound open & unclean.
I refuse the long hallway in the past of pasts
where I wanted to be the fury
of wildfire, the devastation of the uncontrolled
burn. Control is for the weak, god
-dammit. Last year, a man ordered me to go
do my job, by which he meant
go be a mother. My ovaries, in bloom, ached
with their own weight. I was teaching
four courses, running youth sports programs,
writing. I already had two young children.
Some things will never change without a revolution
that ends anywhere but where it began.
I’ve spent most of my life wishing the gender
of hope & progress was a body of light
anyone could possess, rather than a dream
as bright as the sun on snow, but mistaken.
At the End of a Cold War
Starved are the wolves.
The wood unweathers under snow,
a stain of sky on the lake.
It’s hard to be safe
when someone chases the north
star with a fifth of whiskey
every night. I’m trusting you not to /burn
the house down, your mother
used to say. Poverty is earned
in a grocery store aisle. The clink
of hard-won change
as it hits the tile, & is lost.
Call the snow: weapon.
Call it a beginning.
No one dies without
beginning. In this backcountry,
wars aren’t fought on distant shores.
Don’t go home. Each night,
you see your sons flee
in your sleep. The man in your bed
who wants to kill them
walks free in the woods.
The scope, a fixed eye
on his shotgun.
In stealth, on a cold day,
the ice on the lake closes over its heart.
You always knew what weight
the surface would carry. You
cross the ice to hear the world
open. The moon, a ghost-
eye at the bottom of a fishing hole.
There is so much you wanted
from this life. Gone,
in a stroke of winter.
Let the water remember.
Let any war refuse you shelter.
Photograph of Chelsea Dingman by Agostini Photography.