As Safe As Night

Chelsea Dingman

After                he tells my friends           how awful I was

how I laid there       unwelcoming           where are we fucking

going he’d said      as if he deserved all doors         flung open

another gap-toothed prayer for beer                     instead

of food                  instead of forgiveness           as I strained

to hold myself inside                the tree limbs            stitched

with sky             as I strained to believe that I was ever

young         that girl           sick with the wind’s exorcism

the moon            slutting               in a valley’s gullet

a man’s mouth           on each word          I couldn’t save

for myself            the dawns that arrived like shame

to settle in the trees      I’ve said nothing about

that night the dark the trees the sharp glancing pain

that came & came & came               how I couldn’t stand

on my own for hours             or was it years

my body   mulched              mistaken         for an invitation

an entryway          I shouldn’t have had to enter

this story      alone          this sad this sorry     starved

lash-less      I’ve never made a wish        on anything

I’ve lost           I wish  instead        for a night

that could be safe          from all this dark


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