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They had no papers, no means of travel; and a surly guard with a knife was at the door.
“Dreaming of El Dorado” by Marie Arana

This transparency shows where I’ve been kissed
by lovers, note the lonely knee cap.

Here is the thermal where shame shows up
like sunburn– rarely affecting the shin.

But here is also the scar chart
where blade struck skin,

those perilous lower leg bones
first shaved of adolescent down.

Now here is something—
the weight of gold,

my fingers ringed with heirloom and wedding prize
but the heart, the head, know the cost.

See the map of my chest? Iron lashed with guilt.
Here’s where the troubles lie

sunk in the chemical waste of Peru,
in the crush of mercury,

under the torn leather shoes
of a hungry orphan…

under the equator where a young girl’s hymen
is worth a mustard seed of gold.



Kierstin Bridger is a Colorado writer, winner of the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize, the 2015 ACC Writer’s Studio, editor of Ridgway Alley Poems, and Co-Director of Open Bard Poetry Series. She earned her MFA at Pacific University. Read more here.