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Sample Poems by Kika Dorsey
Eliza at the Pond

My daughter and I walk along the pond,
toads hopping at our feet,
blackbirds singing their high-pitched whistle.
She throws grass in the water,
and the sunfish rise to take it in their mouths,
then spit it out and descend again.

Eliza’s long legs are like the trunks
of our young apple trees and her eyes
the fruit of early summer, unripe
and forgetting the bloom of her birth.
In my marrow is the red of autumn
and the blood that fed her and memory
rich and dark and dreaming.

We feed fish crumbs together and throw
pennies to wish on futures.
She will glow like a newborn star
while I trail behind, the tail of a comet,
and we sprinkle midnight with light,
we tread on overgrown paths,
we capture time on our tongues,
my hands weathered,
her breasts budding,
we the seasons of Earth’s tilt,
the language that grows new words,
our hands joined as bridge
over the oblivion of Earth.

Maxine and the Water

Her hair the color of rust and bark,
thin arms the branches of lilac
and eyes round as coins,
deep hue of soil.

She carries the humid breath of Savannah
and sassafras, dogwoods
and magnolias’ white lips
to cup her newborn whom she brings
to the Northwest, carrying
the Atlantic to the Pacific,
oceans collected in her belly of Pisces,
that Alrescha cord binding
the salt in her eyes with her home of water.

She is the silence nestled
in the pause between waves,
the thick paint of storms
over wrinkled gray tides,
and the green-yellow bark of madrone
with its shiny leaves, red petiole,
binding leaf to stem
as she clings to her new home.

She sheds her past,
the snows she has left behind,
the frozen mouths of graves,
and the white of her canvas
she colors with every color
while her baby learns to walk
in the city,
in the forest,
in the rain.

Staci in Seattle

The water riddles this city like weeds,
the Sound and lakes and winding streets and hills
and Staci traveling through it,
her home, her city of water and moss.

She upholsters the side chair yellow with green vines
that wind across its seat like her hands
forever weaving and stringing with cotton and metal
the skirts and the mottled green scarves
and rust-colored ceramic armor the model
wears like rock beneath her waterfall
of auburn hair.

She loves like the moss of the Northwest
crawling up Douglas fir and pillowing ground
beneath her lover’s feet and beneath me,
when around her my mountains collapse
and I chew the seeds of sleep
in rooms where art creeps up the walls
and through the cracks of her blue eyes.

Seattle rises from Puget Sound like a giant heron,
its orange gantry cranes unloading containers from ships.
From their hulls they pluck from freighters
the stuff of our dreams and our making and undoing
with their fulcrums and pulleys,
their angles and motion,
fishing what has braided the sea
while she rises from the water
dripping with our history of salt,
that water that never freezes,
with her wings of moss and sea and poppy
and feather that has no color,
because it is every color.


I swim to you like a sunfish
in the pond surrounded by cattails and high grass,
water murky and green,
my thoughts viscid and sinking,
breathing water like an old gambler
her hope for a King of Hearts,
surrounded by the carp skimming the pond’s floor,
gray fat bodies slipping and churning.

I swim where transparency eludes me,
in the darkness of your eyes,
becoming the bones that carry you through life
like your white truck with a bed of soil for our garden,
where riotous raspberry bushes grow.

When air outwitted me,
bilked me of its thin promise,
withheld its aces and its sweaty fingers of rain,
and the desert caught us in its thorns,
I learned to breathe underwater.
Blackbirds landed on cottontails
that our children crushed to feel white fluff in bantam hands,
and the relentless shoring of the world rose toward you,

where I found you,
a boy leaning against a shovel,
fishing pole in hand,
the sky as gridless and open
as my mouth gasping for air,
and you the spade

Kika Dorsey is the author of two books of poetry: a chapbook, Beside Herself (Flutter Press, 2010), and a full-length collection, Rust (Word Tech Editions, 2016). She is the poetry editor of Plains Paradox and an instructor of English composition and creative writing. She received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington in Seattle where she specialized in German modern and postmodern literature. She resides in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband, daughter, son, and pets. When not writing or teaching, she enjoys swimming Masters and running or hiking in the mountains and on the plains of her Colorado home.