Wherever we go we look carefully.
Range of Light, Muir called the Sierra Nevadas.
And in the last hours of sun, we can see it:
the lored Gold Mountain, luring
Chinese men like M’s ancestors
with the promise of Californian wealth.
Our own faces, gilded for a breath.
Then it blinks out, as all illusions do
when conditions cease to be right.
We were most American
in movement, most in range
of that golden glow when
passing through. All I can say
is I love these small white churches
barely visible across the long fields.
I roll down the car window
to angle my voice against
mountainsides as M and I turn hairpins
to toss our small mixed
bodies into May-cold rivers:
the American River, the Smith River,
whatever streams of snowmelt
we can suffer. Once, our parents
were verbs in the mouths of siren
cities, gateways to their parents’
dreams: San Francisco, Los Angeles,
Seattle, songs strung too quickly into codas.
Now the persistent pull
to put them in our rearviews,
this rugged-dust, gas-station-cigarette,
fitted like a crumpled fortune
into our ungovernable forms.
Megan Kim is a poet from Southern Oregon, currently enjoying Midwestern lakes. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Hobart, Lantern Review, and Narrative Magazine, among others. She is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she also teaches. She reads for Palette Poetry.