Traumatic Brain Injury

by Chelsea Dingman

There are certain sounds that transform
       what we forget, what we remember—:

       the reassuring rhythm of the clock. The rattle
       of a fork on teeth. The mouth, petrified

open as machines bleatbleat bleatbleat.
The first beat of your baby’s heart

       on a monitor. The flat line like years & months,
long forgotten. The splintered laugh

       of a woman so like your mother, except
       your mother is the almost-ghost

of refrigerator light in the kitchen
at midnight. And which memory are you? —

       Are you the field swallowing milk
       thistle, hoping for a cure

       to this life? Whatever did you need
       to be cured of: the disease

or the treatment?  The sound of your heart, winding
down? Years later, I’m looking back

       at who you were when you were the sick
       crunch of snow under our boots. The lonely

       ache of the blackbird’s call. I’m trying to tell you
       about the first winter without you:

the leaves have let go. Bare, the trees are
resplendent, like all things that we love

for what they lost when they were most alive.

Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). She is also the author of a chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). She has won prizes such as: The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, The Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize, and The South Atlantic Modern Language Association’s Creative Writing Award for Poetry. Her work is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Salt Hill, and The Southern Review, among others. Visit her website: