Ron Gilbert CC
I’ve not read the news in two days so I am dreaming
about lakes so cold I can’t swim in them,
and my father beckons to me on shore, and it is dark.
I am dreaming of a hybrid car I think I own
but have to return after I try to seduce the driver,
who is a veteran and crippled from a war.
I do not know what war.
It could be the one in Ukraine, or Ethiopia, or Yemen,
and all I know is how breathing comes so easily,
like the way the injured man slides his leg
and it arcs before planting like the curve of a planet,
and I realize I don’t own the car so I will return it,
and my father reaches out for me and touches my hand,
saying, swim, and I’m looking at the cold water
and bracing myself, holding my breath and pulling
my hair off my face, the wet strands from my cold sweat,
the water dark with ripples of white lines in the moonlight,
my father asking from me what is not impossible but difficult,
the wars trudging forward, the motors of the world spent
on oil I will never own, and I with my broken hesitation
to plunge into the place where the light is darkest.
I lift my head when I hear words that have not been written
while noticing the crickets stopped singing this late autumn day,
have buried pupa underground where they sing in their sleep.
I haven’t a way to climb past the dry seasons
into your arms, the way they rain and drop
from heavens that never answered my questions.
The pond is sinking like the nights, and the breath
of a day lends wind to the blackbird wings, while
my hands are empty of joy and all I thought was mine.
You are behind me like a twisted road and reach before me
like an invisible season, one born out of the grace
of burying, of folded wings and autumn’s waning light.
In my shadow I sometimes see you,
how you etch me with the dark. Behind me is
yellow corn, before me a harvest to feed the cattle,
a slaughter in November, a child a child
no more, a place where her first words
get lost in the clatter of all that followed them.
I wonder what their sound was, whether
you lent them your accent, your foreign lilt, your remnant
from a home we all see as other, outside the dry ditch,
the prairie aster, our bones, someplace of origin’s spoken need.
Sometimes now I hear how what you have left behind is
full of asking, both questions and demands,
or more like a pleading to not move the target
or lock the door, to cool this hot planet so that
we don’t burn, to come to us in the silence.
Kika Dorsey's work has been published in numerous journals and books, including The Comstock Review, Cleaver Magazine, The Denver Quarterly, The California Quarterly, The Columbia Review, Narrative Northeast, among many others. Dorsey has published a chapbook of poetry, Beside Herself (Flutter Press, 2010) and three full-length collections, Rust, Coming Up for Air. (Word Tech Editions, 2016, 2018), and Occupied: Vienna is a Broken Man and Daughter of Hunger (Pinyon Publishing, 2020), winner of the Colorado Authors’ League Award. Dorsey has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington in Seattle and currently teach composition, creative writing, and poetry at Front Range Community College and the University of Colorado.
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