top of page

The World is On Fire

     Chelsea Dingman


And, instead of water or dirt, you want

               to burn. Slowly, at first, as the light 

reddens, and all is otherworldly. You want 


the orchard to burn ahead of the harvest, 

               the hiss of wet leaves as smoke escapes

what is left. Fire may be the only human


rendering. After the body is wrapped in barbed wire.

               After anyone desires to break

free from constraint. The knife & the rifle, kept


in the cupboard. The beds, with hospital 

               corners. When you wish to burn 

because fire is a particular kind of faith. 


When there is no fidelity in family, thorn,

               kindling. When the only world you’ve known

leaves you bare. Or is it barren? Burning,


here or there. Nowhere that you belong. 

               It’s okay to expect nothing less of anyone.

It’s okay to believe in something as it burns.


Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second poetry collection, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize (University of Georgia Press, 2020). She is also the author of the chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). Visit her website:

bottom of page