He Said Turn Here

By Dean Young b. 1955 Dean Young
and then Tony showed us the lake
where he had thrown some of his sadness last summer   
and it had dissolved like powder   
so he thought maybe the lake could take   
some of the radiant, aluminum kind   
he had been making lately.
And it did.
It was a perfect lake,
none of the paint had chipped off,
no bolts showing, the arms that Dante   
and Virgil would have to hack through   
not even breaking the surface.   
Mumbling Italian to itself,
it had climbed down two wooden stairs
back to the beach now that the rains were done.
How strange to be water so close to the ocean
yet the only other water you get to talk to   
comes from the sky. Maybe this is why   
it seems so willing to take on
Tony’s sadness which sometimes corrodes   
his friends, which is really
many different sadnesses, smaller   
and smaller, surrounded by more   
and more space, each a world and   
at its core an engine like a bee   
inside a lily, like buzzing inside   
the bee. It seems like nothing   
could change its color although   
we couldn’t tell what color it was,   
it kept changing. In the summer,
Tony says he comes down early each day
and there’s no one around so the lake
barely says a thing when he dives in
and once when his kitchen was on fire in Maine   
and he was asleep, the lake came and bit his hand,   
trying to drag him to safety   
and some nights in New Mexico,   
he can hear it howling,
searching for him in the desert   
so we’re glad Tony has this lake
and we promise to come back in August
and swim with him across,   
maybe even race.

Dean Young, “He Said Turn Here” from First Course in Turbulence. Copyright © 1999 by Dean Young. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press, www.pitt.edu/~press/.

Source: First Course in Turbulence (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)

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Poet Dean Young b. 1955

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Nature, Living, Summer, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Allusion

 Dean  Young


Poet Dean Young was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and received his MFA from Indiana University. Recognized as one of the most energetic, influential poets writing today, his numerous collections of poetry include Strike Anywhere (1995), winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry; Skid (2002), finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Primitive Mentor (2008), . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Living, Summer, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Allusion

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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