Reconstructing the Saints

	Church of the Holy Spirit, Rohatyn 1924

You enter to escape
the cold & find a canvas of St. John,
                  his hands unsealed

to write. Other icons,
painted in vibrant reds, mounted
                  on wooden walls’ slick gloss. All white

men, suffering and suffered. Christ,
stripped. His chest: ribbons
                  of bone. Archangel Michael, Abraham—

young boys again. You ask them about
hunger. How to outrun changing
                  flags like a child outrunning its name. A war,

past, yet still humming. Your mother
thinks God must be dead, but you ask
                  the sky to show its hands. For manna

to frost the cemetery’s leaning statues,
forlorn rows. To frost wood, overrun by lifelines
                  like an old man’s palms. For red

water to spill forth from the Hnyla Lypa
cursing below, its name already lost
                  on new maps. You search the saints’ eyes

before turning, light ivying
their faces. You think a house can keep
                  you safe. The bodies, buried. Doors

that won’t spit you out. You search
their hands, empty as spoons. They can’t take away
                  what you pray. This weight: fist & bone

& wail. In their silence, you hear blood,
as it spins like air through a windmill’s vanes.
                  As it coppers the chambers, makes them flame.

Copyright © 2018 Chelsea Dingman. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fall-Winter 2017.