by Brynn Saito
You Don’t Believe
in barren. You believe in emptiness
and the silence that comes before meaning.
You believe in the snow shining its reverse
spectacle of sunlight as you drive through the west
with your partner asleep and the dogs asleep
and your parents safe and alive in your childhood
home in the Central Valley. The sun makes a thumbprint
in a white-out sky. The sheen of it reminds you
of that winter in Seoul when you traveled
the country alone, seeking the shape of your face
in all the other faces, drinking barley tea
with near strangers, circling the golden mounds
of Gyeongju, those ancient Silla tombs like pregnant
bellies under an iron atmosphere. After the news
of your entrenched infertility, you anchor yourself
in the unsayable. You relinquish one dream
in the grief tundra for another dream.
You reorder your desires like ordinary roots
under snow-drenched fields, fibrous
and twisting, still living, still seeking water.
Brynn Saito’s third book of poems, Under a Future Sky, was published in August by Red Hen Press. A 2023 California Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow, Brynn is the recipient of the Benjamin Saltman Award and her poems have appeared in the New York Times and American Poetry Review. Brynn lives in the traditional homelands of the Yokuts and Mono peoples (aka, Fresno, California) where she teaches in the MFA program at Fresno State. She’s co-editing with Brandon Shimoda an anthology of poetry written by descendants of the Japanese American / Nikkei incarceration, forthcoming in 2025 from Haymarket Books.