Gail DiMaggio

Pine Row Issue No. 7 Summer 2023 - Featured Poet


First it’s a month, then another

four. I begin to lose things: yesterday’s

mail, the trail out of the woods. Whenever

I can, I slip free from the talking—

oh, how I used to love the talking—but now,

word then word costs so much—the picking of them,

the parting of them. Do I mean whisper

or sliver? Or silver or maybe slipper, maybe bedtime

 slipper. Someone asks, Mom, are you all right?

And it’s hard to remember

what I don’t remember. Nights

have never brought such sweet,

chocolate dark. Once I was afraid

of the busy night-mind, nightmares

crackling inside my eyes. But now

sleep is a plunge

into the numb dream, the one where

I am deeply sleeping. My body

brings me. She is shambling and rank,

but not, or not exactly, a bear.

Though who else can dig her way 

down dirt into burrow, who else

can lift my dreaming self, by the nape,

by the mouthful? Carry

the huge weight of me—

fetally swinging, fatally singing—

deeper and deeper

to sleep.

About this poem:  as shared by the poet

Sometime in the second Covid spring, I began to notice a certain disorientation in myself. Or do I mean depression? Anyway, I lost things, forgot things, broke things at an unusual rate even for a woman long famed for clumsiness. One morning I realised that every night for a week I had dreamed myself asleep and dreaming. This seemed so odd that I decided to see if it would make a poem, and Hibernation is the result.  

Gail DiMaggio’s first book, Woman Prime, was selected by Jericho Brown for the 2018 Permafrost Poetry Prize and published by Alaska University Press. Her work has appeared recently in The Ekphrastic Review, The Whiskey Island, and Raw Arts Review where her poem “We Look into Fire” was a runner up for the Mirabai Prize. In 2022, five of her poems received that year's Passager Poetry Prize. Her upcoming poetry collection, What She Made of It, will be published in early 2024 by Pine Row Press. 

She resides in Concord, NH.

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