The Search for Hidden Gold
Jessica Baran

Three weeks into the voyage, radio contact fails, a fishing trawler

finds the boat about 150 nautical miles west-south-west.

It’s two-thirds capsized with the bow pointing down

and judging by the degree of fouling, it looks as though the boat

has been drifting around in this position for about six months.


You’re the boy who fell for it. You always fall

wearing black shirt and pants, sipping water and arranging

a red, yellow and blue bouquet of flowers. The bouquet,

carefully rearranged, is composed discreetly of red flowers,

then yellow, then blue. Light, vulnerable objects

are flowers, vases, eggs, light bulbs, and birthday cakes. 

Throw stones at illuminated light bulbs, and night falls. 

Wander in it—freeways, back alleys, hills, and coastline—

with a flashlight, a guiding star. A suspicious summons

says to crawl through a wooded area. In a clearing,

a silver-service setting, a cake. You proceed to sip tea.

Then, a trap box falls over you. The summons read:

Greetings from Lucky Lode (flipside, scrawled) all is falling. 

Today, you fell on your floor after failing to levitate. 

All your dirty blue clothes in a heap. You leapt to sleep,

too fast, practicing being dead. But it's not just a feeling,

it's a philosophy. An Underground Chase. You talked

to a mountain: the mountain talked of things which are

necessary and always true, and you talked of things

which are sometimes, accidentally true. But this is no clue. 

Grander than the self-weary self is a heavy black whale

dead in the ocean. It wish-washed onto your shore. 

You thought: the practice of drowning is the separation

of grain from chaff, the separation of the good from the bad. 

A device for winnowing grain, an act of golden winnowing. 

After a snack, you did it: you hired a choir to sing

sea chanteys, like Danger in the Fog, to announce

the imminent voyage. Out of the box, miraculously! 

A chance for flight in the night. As the gold coins

fall deeper into the ocean, you bid them: fall well. 

I’m on to you, dear wave that wiles: farewell faraway friends.