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Sample Poems by Kika Dorsey

The Color of Apples

I met you at the arcade,
your large shoulders framing Deal or No Deal
while you chose the cases.
You were winning,
and I held my daughter's small hand
and watched the screen flash your fortune.
Your hair was down to your shoulders and blond,
your body big as a god's,
and you asked my daughter, in your rich, Swiss accent,
if she was good at the game.
She shrugged.
You smiled.
I gazed into your blue eyes.
I was in love.

You never looked at my hands, nor did I look at yours.
We both wore a plain wedding band
that slid down each other's back
while we made love in your small brick house in Longmont.
In spring, your apple tree bloomed,
your wiry dog ate too much chocolate
and ended up at the vet's,
my tulips kissed the sky,
and my daughter played soccer.
Then the heat of summer pressed down on us,
I saw trouble ahead,
and we decided to part.

Ten years later,
I still feel your large bones,
the way I buried them to chew on in my dreams,
you my cellar where I keep old wine,
German thick in my mouth,
your hand on my breast,
a hike on the icy creek where I fell, scuffing my knee,
and you had no bandage to catch the blood.

Now the ice melts,
and my tulips no longer bloom
because I can't find the bulbs to thin them.
My daughter plays Mary Poppins in the play,
a stranger to the house she's destined to leave,
her body sprouting,
her days busy with friends,
computer games that I do not understand,
arcades without me to watch her play.

I think of your apples,
whether your wife bakes pies with them,
whether they are red or green.
I never saw their color.
I never meant to.

still life of bodies

your leg lies over my hips,
its shadow across my belly,
your arm lying on my breast,
my hand on your shoulder

we are folded over
and into each other
like origami of a heron,
its wings our limbs,

my smooth stomach the waters,
my wetness where you fished
for the elusive,
and we fold and unfold

like the rosary in mass,
beads slipping through fingers,
virgin swimming to shore,
where wind licks into waves

lapping, caressing
cattails and grass,
moist as a garden in spring

What Lies Beneath

Liquid terrain,
your floors tilting and rocking,
negotiating wind with white sails.
I have been born through volcanoes,

through molten fire of desire and escape,
too late to take this broken ship home.
I have lost my home.
You ask me when I will return

to the plains of the West,
when I will wrest myself
from the peace of forever waiting,
when I will open the gate to you.

I say the divine is a starfish
with nowhere to go,
hugging rock like a mother,
tide pools where it grasps in tumultuous air.

But water is now my home.
It embraces me like the moat of a castle,
and you in your boat cannot imagine how deep it is,
what lies beneath the wind.

The Elm Trees

The bark is rough on my hands,
its color silver against the moonlight.
I've climbed only to the first branch,
thick, empty of leaves.
They will cut down this ash,
tunneled by insects,
the ash borers that will take down every ash tree in the city.

Above me a branch forks like a wishbone.
I grab it and lift myself,
climb to huddle in the corner and lean against the trunk.
My hands burn.
I can see the lights of the city now
and the library next to the dark, winding creek.
I think how it's too dark to read.

We will plant the stronger trees-
the maples, oak, and beech,
which come from the East,
which we can keep alive
with the water we steal from the mountains.
The desert will bloom.

The silver branches are thinning.
I climb.
The moon is a coin we are spending.
I want a last look at the city from this tree.
It stretches before me, spills across dry plains.
And I will climb down.
I will slide down its rough trunk and then dig,
shovel with my torn hands a hole,
keep descending, pulling out roots,
their latticework woven by no fingers,
and I will shred its bark to mulch
while the ash borers escape.

I will take down what is weak,
rid the city of disease,
and fashion books out of wood.