Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (Complicated Grief)

Chelsea Dingman


“The truth is, that every death is violent.”-Samuel Johnson

Then, let me know the violence of the last
day of sun. The violence of a thousand

orphaned forget-me-nots, floating
in the fields. The women bent in child-

birth. The child who hanged herself
inside me before birth. Let me know

the violence that will be mine. I’m tired
of mourning what is lost here—the leaves,

rainfall collecting in the gutters, the doe
that used to visit my yard, mid-afternoon,

as my growing belly marked time.
It is months later & the doe is spared

the violence done in this body. I am
spared pleasure. Outside, the trees’ limbs beat

their bodies in wind that has stitched itself
in a thousand strands of hair. The green season

recedes. Blackbirds circle above, beating
their bodies with threadbare wings. Beating

each other back from a dead creature
left in the street, as if one violence does

not beget another. But isn’t that what
I’m supposed to want: violence that begins

with necessity? Some measure of mercy?


Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press (2017). In 2016-17, she also won The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Poetry Prize, The Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, Water-stone Review’s Jane Kenyon Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the Auburn Witness Prize, Arcadia’s Dead Bison Editor’s Prize, Phoebe’s Greg Grummer Poetry Prize, & Crab Orchard Review’s Student Awards. Her work can be found in Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, The Colorado Review, and Gulf Coast, among others. Visit her website:

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