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Contraband

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Alone with a shovel in the desert.

For safekeeping, I bury:

What I know about the crates, and the agents, and who was to blame.

Shocks of rage felt in my lungs and brain stem and soft palate.

Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix.

The stained-glass shard of teenage yearning to love and be loved.

Photos of mountains.

The dream I had last week about the sunburst death mask and its accompanying foil-embossed history book.

A real history book.

How much I hate cilantro.

The strange, terrifying beauty of the suns plummeting from the sky, bleeding fire and noise everywhere.

The weather on my birthday.

The way Erika smiled when I gave Josie my shopping cart.

PaperMate InkJoy, blue, 12.

I will go back for them. Out there, in the scrublands, I will find them again, navigating by the topography of rocks and Joshua trees and cacti with flat-top cuts.

I bury each at a depth according to the time I expect to pass (or to appear to pass, or to imagine passing):

Anything I’ll need within three months at just six inches.

Six months to a year, one foot.

One to five years, two feet.

Five to ten years, four feet.

Anything longer than a decade, five feet, eleven inches. I use a tape measure to make sure I dig no deeper than that.

 

It is a very important inch.