Noli Me Tangere

                   “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

My brother isn’t ready to become the salvation
song stowed in an ear, the owls

spilled from my mother’s mouth at midnight
as she sleeps four hundred feet from him

again. My brother: the quiet hush of snow
that breaks itself against the field. Helpless before

this blue hour, my mother uses her body
as a river. Water, even revised, knows

where it came from. My brother whispers
from his closet, mistaking it for a childhood

where abandon wasn’t the wild indigo that lives
through winter. No wound unseen will be touched,

but how to hold him as he dies again, my mother
on her knees outside her body. Tired of the heart

that cannot be touched without dying
a little first. That flat line. Electricity that begs

the wound to begin again. My brother, on suicide
watch, is unremarkable. But we are owls

perched on the brink of night & remembrance.
My mother loses weight to keep him

warm. To keep him close, we walk the city as he bows
to the myth in his cup. The news breaks

with a story about a little boy murdered
& fastened to a cross. In resurrection stories,

it is belief, not human hands, that brings anyone
back from the dead. We can’t be saved

here. The fields of snow stretch under us. A hare
sits in the street, listening. Some ending seeks us.

What if this life is the only life we have?


Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second book, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize and was published in February 2020. Her work can be found in The Southern Review, The New England Review, and The Kenyon Review, among others.