April 5, 2016

Three Poems by Kika Dorsey: "Everything Comes in Threes", "Thirst", and "Journey to Lakes"

Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Kika Dorsey is a poet and professor living in Boulder, Colorado, and lives with her two children, husband, kitten, and Border Collie. She wakes up at 5:00 every morning and crafts poetry out of dreams, myths, her body, and her travels. Her poems have been published in The Denver Quarterly, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Comstock Review, Freshwater, The Columbia Review, among numerous other journals and books. . Her collection of poems, Beside Herself , was published by Flutter Press. Her full-length collection, Rust, is coming out with Word Tech Editions August 2016..  She is a professor of English at Front Range Community College. When not writing or teaching, she taxis her teenagers to activities, swims miles in pools, and runs and hikes in the open space of Colorado’s mountains and plains. 

Everything Comes in Threes

Three days since we lost our lamb
    to the wolf in the moors of England,
three sheep we brought into the barn,
whistling at our dogs
    and squinting in spring light,
three fingers you lost to war,
and three men who brought you down.

I can see the horizon from the plane’s window,
wondering how high to I have to climb
    to see it curve,
thinking of those lines of your body,
my hands wrapped around your thigh,
your eyes etched by the shadows of fire.

The wings are gray and covered in droplets,
and three men ask me where I’m going,
their questions like the fishing lines
    where we caught the sturgeon
and one line broke
and the fish got away,
    hook in its gray mouth.
I look at the gray wings
    and into the eyes of the three men
and I say,

wherever the crow can fly,
    to my father’s grave in Tennessee,
    to the castle in London,
    to the Bahnhof in Berlin,
wherever my lover buried me,
where I rose and pushed open the coffin
and dug my way up,
shook off the dirt,
stole crumbs from the crows
and collected their shed wings
        into a bouquet

of the sex that brought me down,
the children that threw me roses,
and the body that climbed fire.


My dog barked in November
and trains came crashing through my forest
toward the lake where I walked
on waves of ice toward deep water,
dove into its depth and swam to Chicago.
Kika the daredevil, they said,
I dumbfounded, staggered and stupefied
by my thirst to swim,
while railcars carried oil,
sleeping immigrants,
and black coal
the color of my spreading pupils
in the black-pepper night
where a blinking lighthouse
brought me home.

I left three times,
itinerant as a bird:
once to gallivant across the Alps
        to see my mother’s hips in their stone,
once vagrant and roving through cities
        of asphalt to see my ambition grow,
once on a junket to Spain,
        where I picked oranges and drank wine.

I learned three languages
and collected dogs,
their paws against my leg,
my hands stroking fur as soft as dust.
I learned to hunt grouse with them in the forest,
where pines taught me about ascent,
the way they rise and swell
from their sappy trunks.
I learned to dance
on the edge of my nightmares
and in the summer I picked raspberries
for my children,
who slipped and spilled out of me,
out of the love
for the resolute, stalwart man,
gritty as soil.

I kept swimming in aqua pools
and December’s ice I scraped
from my car’s windows
so I could see where I was going.
My thirst was a mother with nowhere to go
but in and through a body,
tunneling like blood through
the winter’s ground as patient
as the tulip bulbs it held
and the slow cooking of bird and root,
of the years I spent
coddling, nursing, teaching
languages of shadow and the hunt
in the wind that drank the winter sky.  

Journey to Lakes

We drove the blue bug.
I had a green sleeping bag.
We slept next to highways on the dirt of Wyoming,
in parks in Idaho, where we woke up
        to sprinklers soaking us.
We picked corn from the fields of Iowa
        and roasted them in fires.
We slept on stone slabs along Lake Superior,
its cold water licking our feet when the sun rose.
I swam and swam.

My father was alive then,
but the ravens flew over Indiana
and my mother lost her memory.
We visited them in a cabin on Lake Michigan.
I ate peaches and collected blue beach glass.
You combed my sister’s brown hair.
Ravens perched on lush maples
and the lake was as rippled
as my mother’s dream of sacrifice.
On the other side of her was a planet
        where no one could breathe.
On the other side of him was a methane lake
        he drank like rain.

I said to you if you touch me,
        you better learn to swim.
You collected stones and built me a wall.
Three sheep lived behind it.
One we sheared for the cold winter.
One we slaughtered in November.
One we kept to eat the thistle.

Our journey ended.
I had a bouquet of raven feathers.
You torched the beach glass
        and crafted a vase.

Three decades later my father died.
All I do anymore is swim.
One day I will learn to breathe underwater. 

~Kika Dorsey 

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