Fire still smolders in roots and stumps, and has blown up between burn scars
from last year’s blaze. On the coast, fishing boats anchor close to shore, their
lamps like emeralds on the water that call squid to circle and rise. The world roils
and churns beneath us, while overhead, stars are whirling to a tune I can almost
hear. The words, I already know.
When I lived in town, I often dreamed that I’d buried a body behind my house,
and I’d wake terrified that someone would discover it. The house was an old
Victorian, and a man once came to the door to ask if he could search for treasure
in my backyard. He carried a steel rod five feet long, with a handle at one end.
We use these probes to locate murder victims and mass graves, he said, but I’m
just looking for old trash pits. He drove the rod into the ground, feeling for a
change in density. He dug up bottles, broken plates, then his probe hit something
unyielding, and he pulled up a tin box filled with the skeleton of a dog. He wanted
to keep it, but I put the box back in the hole and packed it tight with earth.
Gary Young’s most recent books are That’s What I Thought, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award from Persea Books, and Precious Mirror, translations from the Japanese. His books include Even So: New and Selected Poems; Pleasure; No Other Life, winner of the William Carlos Williams Award; Braver Deeds, winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize; The Dream of a Moral Life which won the James D. Phelan Award; and Hands. A new book of translations, Taken to Heart: 70 poems from the Chinese, was recently published by White Pine Press. He has received grants from the NEH, NEA, and the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America among others. He teaches creative writing and directs the Cowell Press at UC Santa Cruz.