that we might’ve been together 
at the union hall, with the beer

bottles and the night that didn’t fall
away? I might’ve saved you from

that car ride to the end of this calm

world. Would we have been happy?
The morning you died, I slept.

I got the kids up for school in the dark. 
There were hours that I thought

you were alive. I keep thinking
about the cost of living. Your body,

unwrung and above me. Clothes
scattered like the hours you were

missing. What is happiness?
What I count on is the dark. The light.

Wanting to live anyway. The river
in my teeth and the reasonable grass

under my feet like someone I loved
once, impossibly alive.

Copyright © 2018 Chelsea Dingman. Reprinted with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Autumn 2018.

Will it never be possible
to separate you from your greyness?
Must you be always sinking backward
into your grey-brown landscapes—and trees
always in the distance, always against a grey sky?

                          Must I be always
moving counter to you? Is there no place
where we can be at peace together
and the motion of our drawing apart
be altogether taken up?
                                 I see myself

standing upon your shoulders touching 
a grey, broken sky—
but you, weighted down with me,
yet gripping my ankles,—move
                          laboriously on,
where it is level and undisturbed by colors.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 20, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.