they are coughing in the high rises of New York

in the bayous of Louisiana

in the mountains of Colorado


they are coughing up wind

while God orders the trees to bend

with our breath

and our hope cracks

and stretches like rain

because to see death

is to scrape down a home

with nothing to build in its place

on the moody March grass

on the spine of a god

who won’t stand up for us today


they’re in a small room with white walls

fever dances in their eyes

a woman lays her face in her hands

the children are drawing houses

with trees on the lawn

lines of walls through the trunks

no erasers

there is always some line in the way

branch and wall intersecting

viruses crossing borders

world as global as the tides

as hungry as the days

counting coins for flour

while in our dreams

we walk on water

or light candles in a church

we can’t visit anymore

and in our dreams

we are always younger


they’re catching spiders

and throwing them outside

they’re wrapping themselves

in the sea-sweat

they’re watering the cactus


the cactus never bends to the wind

the cactus is fatter than God

spinier than his tongue

the cactus knows love

better than roses

because to know a desert

is to love the rivers


and I do not want to cross one today

I have a boat with no oars

and a God with no words

and children who climb trees

and a rose petal

pressed in a book

about a sea so red

it mocked our blood

a sea so parted

the fish drowned in air

so the ghosts swam west

where the sun gave up


and I’m on the shore

my river-boat

now a ship at sea

on a wave so big

I can’t see the horizon


Kika Dorsey

Kika Dorsey is a poet and fiction writer in Boulder, Colorado, and lives with her two children, husband, and pets. Her books include Beside Herself (Flutter Press, 2010) and three full-length collections, Rust, Coming Up for Air (Word Tech Editions, 2016, 2018), and the forthcoming Occupied: Vienna is a Broken Man and Daughter of Hunger (Pinyon Publishing, 2020). She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four times. Currently, she is an instructor of English at Front Range Community College and tutors. When not writing or teaching, she swims miles in pools and runs and hikes in the open space of Colorado’s mountains and plains.

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