On The Road

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, 

hand-me-down nation 

      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.