Kevin Young


Nothing can make, make me want
       to stay
in this world—

not the grass
       with its head of hair
turning grey—

not the swayback horse
       in the field
I swear I almost saw

start to saunter—

nor the bent shadows
       late in the day
drawing close—

the neighbor’s boat
       not yet docked
gathering snow

not the dream 
       with the moose hunched
in its crown

shedding velvet
       led by a silver halter
through the shaded campground—

a shawl over its shoulders
       like a caftan on a grandmother
or her rocker

whenever she’s no longer there.

Not the brass nail-heads
       on the Adirondack chair
I put together, sweating, 

this morning, that creaks
       but still
does hold—

nor the cries of the others
       above water, beloved
bright voices of summer

echoing like the ice cream man
       in his whirring truck—
along the curb his lights flash

like an ambulance
       playing the tune
you cannot name—yet know—

except this babbling, like a light
       barely shining,
from below the baby’s cracked door.

Kevin Young, author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, is director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and poetry editor of The New Yorker.