Sonja Dahl, Messages from the Sun, 2015 (series of original cyanotype prints)


With sickness the colour of rain—
when the wet season comes, you can’t keep
the roof from leaking. I put duct tape over holes
in the lanai screens to keep cottonmouths
out. Wash the mold away with bleach. After
a three-year drought, we think rain is a sickness
we want, the whole world wrapped in sky.
We look for self when self
is an itinerary, not the junction
point. You numb. You savage.
I can’t tell us apart
from the oaks dying in the yard.
The pretty gowns of Spanish moss
kill them faster. You want the sickness
to lay itself down inside you. I want
the child I was before I knew you. Before
the maps of ghosts & skin & cells. The saliva
tests. The doctors. Before
this sickness swam in me,
swam you, swam—
Before: we boarded the plane beside ruined wheat
            fields, a silo. Hay bales & horses. I breathed. The baby
hardened in my belly. I pictured her, furious,
            fuming. Maybe, that was the moment
of her death. That last fight to be something
            realized. The flight took off & landed near
the Gulf. The blood was already there.
Repetition is distinctly human. We reach, again
& again, for our own ruin. To connect
at the damaged places we can’t touch. Again,
the tiles are torn off the roof in a tropical storm.
The power goes out for two days. The wind shatters
glass that isn’t boarded up. Again, I get out
the ladder. I replace what is damaged. The sky
swells in the distance. Again, sickness takes you
from me. I tell the neighbour we’re having a boy
this time. The terrible truth about childbirth

is it will never include you. The world
reimagines itself as water & rises.


Chelsea Dingman