Kika Dorsey

The Switzerland Trail

Driving up Sunshine Canyon,
black trunks of trees like burnt matchsticks,
smudges of yellow on aspen,
old gold-mining cabin
and a pond where the duck
glide across the still, green water.

I thought I’d leave you
after the fire
when the sky rained ashes
and the light was dim orange,
pressing on us
like the lipstick I painted on my mouth
when you took me out
for oysters and wine
as deep and dark
as the inside of an abandoned mine.

There are roads everywhere, you said,
you cannot go five miles without
running into a road,
and we walk the old railroad line
past Bluebird and Caribou mines,
imagining the ore mills
and tracks of steel
and rich underground gold seams
on a trail named after another country.

The fire never reached here,
but when we descend in the car,
the parched grasses bow to the autumn wind
and the black trees like sentinels
no longer offer the shade of leaves.

You hand’s touch lingers on mine
and I think of my children
and gold seams stitched across the land,
excavated wombs and torn earth
and I with the thought of leaving
but instead bringing the Alps
of my ancestors
and deep lap of my mother
back to the burnt land,
and now the wind has already
carried the ashes away.