Derealization In a glass room, I wake in the sweat of lions. Angel-white lilacs lie facedown in my blood where my daughter cries at her representation in mirrors. I don’t know if she fears the rain is her autobiography as it shudders the glass wall between us. And yet—, I was born in my mother’s eye, and died in my father’s sight. Though the rifle is committed to silence. Though I don’t know what home looks like, if not dry vermouth and gin. A glass in each hand that I held as a child. If, in that glass, I’ve been trying to go. If I am not man enough to live happily as a woman. If I fear the absence of loss is desire. In the sweat of lions, I wake & wake. The lake water in my ashes is only one representation of time. Though the self is mediated: by which I mean glass is only one representation of sky. If by memory I mean that which has no inside or outside. If sex is apologia. If, after my family became myth, giving birth was grief work. If I am become glass, is that not moving toward love? If by afterlife, I mean the text is a gesture toward immortality. If by afterlife, I mean the aperture that lets a line appear unbroken. The eye or the I.
Beyond the Pleasure Principle Memory is metonymy: to say defensive wound and mean the mind. When driving a pitch -dark, single-lane road, to say I want death that does not involve a body. If, beyond pleasure, bone returns itself to dusk, the breast rendered inanimate without a mouth to fill. Still, I want to unfigure the possibility of unpleasure. That soil I dug from inside you—is it desire that will rupture a constant absence that has no face, no name, yet repeats itself, night and day, behind my eyes? When I think of you now, I see instead yellow stamens. Dandelions I rubbed on my forearms in the field behind our house. Does desire wear thin that impossible rain- shadow lodged between tenses? In cell division, instead of immortality, we found annihilation. If we are each held in the tension between love and hate. If desire means I am is a whole sentence. If life itself is excess, might we mistake the past as present. Might I tell you in a dream that beyond that dark road all I found is rain.
From the author: these poems are part of a larger project that I began this year in my PhD program, while doing research on trauma narratives, memory studies, literary theory, and psychoanalysis. In relation to Freud’s ideas about trauma, “Derealization” engages Fredric Jameson’s ideas about the referent (event) as destabilized and unavailable to the speaker. It has no authoritative force or factual belief, so it cannot solicit belief. Yet, the poem also questions this possibility. “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” particularly engages Freud’s ideas from the essay of the same name, while also engaging the aporias or “plural logic” in this work. Both poems ask what is beyond belief, as well as what constitutes the self when subject formation is impacted by outside stimuli and behaviors.
Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, won the National Poetry Series (UGA Press, 2017). Her second book, through a small ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize (UGA Press, 2020). Her third collection I, Divided, is forthcoming from LSU Press in the fall of 2023. She is also the author of the chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). She is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Alberta.Visit her website: chelseadingman.com.