Chelsea Dingman

For a Thousand and One Nights

The field gives. The river gives before it ends
in the mouth of the sea. A woman

ends, collateral we scatter in the field
to bless what we’ve been

given. Thirst is a generation. How to be grateful
in the flesh of a woman. The fish

have poured forth from the river, clean
water from the faucets. Someone gave

to us, once, when we were hungry
& tired. Someone taught us

to give. Each morning I wake, & another
woman is dead. Suffering

no more of this world. Our houses, in turmoil.
Together, the river & sea mend, but among men

there is nothing as brilliant as light. As safe
as the dark. No one is born

unkind. Unking another war. Remember
what wars the water has passed through

to get here. It’s not yet nightfall. A woman
need not be harmed, nor saved,

nor reinvented by light, but by all
untold histories  

that hold us near abandon. By all hands
that refuse to hem the light.


Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second poetry collection, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press (February, 2020). She is also the author of the chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). Her work is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, and Triquarterly, among others. Visit her website: