KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Nonfiction: 337 words

“My Belly Is Pregnant with Night”:
A Micro-Review of Kika Dorsey’s Rust

by Clare MacQueen

The lushly lyrical narratives of Rust are, essentially, poems of grief infused with Kika Dorsey’s dreamscapes, elegies that lament the early loss of the poet’s father to schizophrenia, and the gradual decline of her mother to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease: “Her thoughts are the wrinkles of water over a river’s stone” (“A Photograph of My Mother”).

Cover of Rust, poems by Kika Dorsey
Wordtech Editions

The loss of self percolates through these poems, the self in exile and always running, a refugee continually searching: “Now my belly is pregnant with night / and we still have no home” (“Building Shadows”). Interwoven throughout is our shared human compulsion to make sense of the incomprehensible, as well as the poet’s anxiety over nurturing not only the exiled self but also her own vulnerable children and, on a larger scale, the children of displaced parents everywhere—all of which we see revealed by recurring dreams of the infant in arms who cries with hunger. “If only I could change the rain to milk,” the narrator cries out in “After the War.”

Dorsey’s writing resonates remarkably with metaphors and similes. For instance, the title of Rust comes, strikingly, from the color of her father’s hair in the coffin. These lines further illustrate the richness of Dorsey’s imagination:

The subways slithered underground like intestines (“In Berlin”).
We grasp at metaphors, at what is distant,
string a highway between love and the tongue of remorse (“Winter Wedding”).
We are kettles with no clue about who turns on the flame,
boiling over at times in the flush of fever
or in the hands of distracted drivers (“The Promise of Honey”).

With Rust, we are in the hands of a poet who writes beautifully about grievous themes, one who has grappled with the shadow side of human consciousness on her own behalf and ours, and one who offers hope to those who struggle with their own demons: “I’ve given birth despite it all to joy” (“Tap Me on the Shoulder”).

—First published on 24 July 2016 at the KYSO Flash Facebook page and on Amazon

Clare MacQueen
Issue 6, Fall 2016
Photo of Clare MacQueen, by Gary Gibbons
Clare MacQueen (in 2006)
Bellevue Botanical Gardens
Photo by Gary Gibbons

is Editor-in-chief and publisher of KYSO Flash, and an assistant editor for the Best Small Fictions series of annual anthologies (Queen’s Ferry Press). She has also served as copy editor and webmaster for Serving House Journal since its creation in 2010, and is a co-editor of Steve Kowit: This Unspeakably Marvelous Life (Serving House Books, 2015).

Her short fiction and essays appear in Firstdraft, Bricolage, and Serving House Journal, and her essays appear in the anthologies Best New Writing 2007 and Winter Tales II: Women on the Art of Aging. Her nonfiction won an Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor’s Choice Award and was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.

Ms. MacQueen and her husband Gary Gibbons design and build custom websites. They also share avid interests in sci-fi movies, flower gardens, and urban beekeeping.

Serving House Journal (among Web del Sol’s Top 50 Literary Magazines)

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Tasting the New, micro-fiction in Serving House Journal (Issue 1, Spring 2010)

Dog Days, flash fiction in Serving House Journal (Issue 9, Spring 2014)

A Visit with the Bee-Headed Monster of the Black Lagoon, an article in Beelines (May 2013, pp. 5–7) based on MacQueen’s phone interview with author and retired English teacher, Terry Johnson, who has kept bees for more than 50 years

Clan Apis: A “Comic Book” by Jay Hostler, MacQueen’s review of the remarkable, genre-bending, award-winning book in Beelines (July 2013, pg. 8); also appearing on page 8 of that issue, photos of her bees feeding on honey

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