Portrait of Katie by Kika Dorsey

Portrait of Katie

She sits with buried head,
won’t look into your eyes,
a woman who bled in prisons,
who spent nine years locked up
for a bag of pot and some pills,
mocked by a cruel cellmate,
begging the guards to see a doctor.
Eventually, after vomiting
the canned beans they forced her
to eat, doubled up on the cold
linoleum, they sent her to a doctor,
who removed her entire colon.

She smells like stale cigarettes,
her bleached hair now dyed auburn.
I want to touch it.
It looks so soft, shiny and copper
like a new penny,
her thin shoulders caressed by it.
Her lover of twenty-seven years
just died and now she holds
his memory tight against her, filled
with shadow and color, her past
a long highway that led
to a place she couldn’t leave,
her future a gutted fish,
a waterfall pressing her shoulders,
a stage where the red boat
may find that water tucked
between the fall
and the stone
and rest for a bit,
listening to the roar.


Kika Dorsey is a poet and fiction writer in Boulder, Colorado. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature and her books include the chapbook Beside Herself (Flutter Press, 2010) and three full-length collections: Rust, Coming Up for Air (Word Tech Editions, 2016, 2018), and Occupied: Vienna is a Broken Man and Daughter of Hunger (Pinyon Publishing, 2020), which won the Colorado Authors’ League Award for best poetry collection. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times. Currently, she is an instructor of English at Front Range Community College and works as a writing coach and ghostwriter. In her free time she swims miles in pools and runs and hikes in the open space of Colorado’s mountains and plains.

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