Shipwrecks & Drownings

by Chelsea Dingman


Halifax Harbour

Beneath the boat, metal
artifacts. Remnants of Deliverance, the SS
Mont-Blanc’s collision. Wartime
vessels, twisted & tacked
under sediment, the sea floor. Yet, metal

attracts metal, its missing parts. Like skin
craves what it once held. An earring. Hands
in my hands. A child I haven’t made
yet. As we pull into port, thick fog descends
& I imagine the blast cloud. Pregnant,

a woman, shiny & swollen. I imagine listening for
a waltz, ear to her belly. How she burns
like the late afternoon sky. As the current
pulls us into shore, hawks dive & pelicans
roost on wooden posts. The salt air,

perfumed by fish & crab, by what nets drag
from the ocean’s dregs. Fishermen haul them up
with cranes, with winches. They don’t die
at once, but seize & scurry. I think of her
again, a face that I can’t make out. But

in long months alone, I’ve learned there’s love
in drowning. In having someone to watch
as I struggle, each twist of mouth
to sky. To pull my body
from the dark & lay it down.

CHELSEA DINGMAN is a Canadian citizen and Visiting Instructor at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (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 Ninth Letter, The Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, Cincinnati Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website: