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Not of Longing but of Light

— Chelsea Dingman

And grief, an animal. Distinct. Derelict.
The scraps of ghosts left
by summer gathered in me
like rain. It rained, here, in another year.
I was lost already. Alive
as the swell of wildfire in forests
along the west coast. What will be left
of anything except the soft ash
that falls ahead of snow? It is too early
in the day to succumb to my dead
father at the door, the sweater
that he left behind too small even
for me—I can’t picture him here,
whole, a thing I haven’t pretended
into being. When was the last time he wasn’t
the rain falling inside me? What death
am I living, his or mine? What light
will replace the moon when it fails
to notice it is not old but worn? Discourse,
now, mine alone. Father-thorn: escape is a car
window before the crash. How can it be
that there is nothing to recover
of someone afterward? My daughter
lays on the floor next to the patio door,
stares through the pane at the sun.
Light seeking light. Casual, the violence
of loss. I wanted her before I knew it
might kill me. My father saying, it’s time
to go
, when I wouldn’t get out of his car
that day. He wept, sitting next to me. Held me
close. One last second. Two, maybe.
Then he laid his body down in the snow.
Each winter, this same grief making me
inhuman. A clawing wind. Cawing.
Caving to loss. Cold. Distinct. Here,
winter is coming. It is always coming.

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