by Karla Huston


Rich says the desert pack rat
loves to steal sparkly things, loves
to eat wiring and hoses, and can strip

a car engine clean overnight.
He says they sneak up into the cups
of his roof tiles and hide, bringing

their treasures along, and birds roost
in their tracks. The rats always
leave something behind, he says,

something in trade for what they take.
They’re very fair that way.
Once, when he’d left an old pickup truck

in the yard, the pack rats filled it
with cactus and sticks, prickly pear ears
and crammed the engine so full that Rich

didn’t know if there was a motor left
to tune up, to tweak and grease, to rev
and coast into the desert sunset,

the moon oiling the desert sky--
the glitter of all those riches
hidden in some dark sparkling place.

Previously published in Comstock Review, Free Verse, and Verse Daily.