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Chelsea Dingman

Instructions for Migration

I Imagine How the Man Who Built the Grand Theatre Hung Himself

Instructions for Migration

Travel light. No kids, no
kin, no kindling, no extra packs
or weapons stashed
in your pockets. Tell yourself

the moon conceals more
than it reveals. That you need
to make a mess of your prints
in snow as you move. Tell yourself no

one will ever see you closely enough
to identify you again. Stay
close to the dark, the water, the edges
of every forest. Pretend you’re another tree

if light disrupts the night you find yourself
in. Forget your name. You won’t be allowed
to keep it. Tell yourself they resent immigrants
less in Canada than where you’re from.

Disguise your accent, your skin, the way
your fingers forget how a woman comes
undone in silver light left by s sliver of moon.
Pretend you’re someone until the world forgets

how far you’ve travelled to be someone
else, shivering in the cold outside
Lethbridge, instead of Lviv. Do not forget
to forget to forget not to forget.

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I Imagine How the Man Who Built The Grand Theatre Hung Himself

three years after his hands hemmed heaven with sky-
lights & shallow balconies. The Peltew River,

hidden beneath her like a ghost. I walk through seats & aisles
& orchestra, alone. O mother, why do I have to go on

without you? Why do I have to wander ghettos, Lviv’s
pretty neck noosed by rifle fire? I don’t want to live anywhere

I don’t know you. This strange theatre, strange city. What if
the next city west of Lviv is the city where I’ll find my own

ashes? Or you, pinned to the earth, a soldier’s pistol
in your back? I came here tonight to hear your voice. For you

to tuck a hymn in my ear. I’m trying not to envy the neck
or the rope, but what is left for me? Shattering? A hymn, cushioning

the rope’s sharp shiver? Holding me here. Holding the leash.

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Chelsea Dingman is a Canadian citizen and Instructor at the University of South Florida. Her first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press (2017). She has work forthcoming in The Sycamore Review (Winner of the Wabash Prize), The Southeast Review (Winner of the Gearhart Poetry Contest), Southern Humanities Review (Finalist for the Auburn Witness Prize), Arcadia (Finalist for the Dead Bison Editor’s Prize), Ninth Letter, Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, and Gulf Coast, among others.

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