Why I Stay by Chelsea Dingman


“Among couples who had a stillbirth, nearly 60 percent broke up within ten years, while close to half of
couples who had a miscarriage broke up within a decade”- Amy Norton, Reuter’s Health, 2010

Because you are the prayer,
today. Because you are the train
‘s sutures cutting through land. Because,
you untangle land & houses
& silences I hold in my ribs
like the ghosts of children
in ghettos.

Because I am a stitch of lake
-effect snow on the Gulf.

Because you are here, today. The map
of your body, late fall,
under the canopy of a palm
tree. Because, today, your face
is troubled in sleep. Because
you’ve been dreaming you are
the poppy field I bury myself

inside, the earth, the other
side of the river
where the women I’ve been
stand like accusations.

Because you dream them now, so I don’t
have to—

the woman who didn’t sew
clothes onto her child’s back, or follow her
like sky. The woman who birthed
a still child, yet can’t forget
how her body once moved.

Because of you, today, this address.
The addresses I’ve entered for the last time.

Because I am still here.
Because I’ve become this country

that I can’t keep. Because
you’ve remade the map
into a map, remembered.


I am the night
itself. Even the dark
can be forgiven.
Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series, published by the University of Georgia Press (2017). In 2016-17, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, The Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, and Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, The Colorado Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website: chelseadingman.com