Two Poems by Lauren Camp

Much

 

On that side of the country, we stayed
in a home where everyone was happiest.
Everyone played with their hair, talked,
interrupted, needed minutes
of feet in the water. Needed the water
dredged every eight days, and swallowed
the plot of five movies, and wanted
to wear their white shirts. In the big room,
a bird twisted his beak. Another repeated only
his mocking, his short permissions. I kept watching
the sun leave its yellows, dazzling, unrelaxing,
along the carpet. In the garden, the mowers
tidied the lawn, settled the weeds. We were not
part of the everyone but we went with them
one late afternoon out to the trees
in the largest vehicle with wheels that slipped
under its windows. The tallest and strongest
of the women was steering the giant
window toward the sprawling sunset
and talking and taking us with her. We drove
to the lake, and she opened the door and took handfuls
of sunset. She opened the hold and took
out small chairs. She served us baked oiled chicken
on plastic. Everyone sat in the chairs
and noticed the lake continued
draining. The double-spaced woman laughed
as her face built its wrinkles. Around us,
cicadas made their coolly blue sounds
and small tides coughed and burrowed.
From that pavement, we looked at the margins
of darkness arriving. Then the horizon
lay very still and we rolled home
through the updating smoke
to the east. Some old polka scuttled out
from the speakers and we listened thoroughly
to the silences between it because we are not
used to such everything. And not, in truth,
to so much of everyone, though there was not
a single thing to complain of. Outside
was pierced with shadows, and nothing
looked like itself, all of it straining.

 

 

Still We Watch Over

 

……………We’re in the cheek of dawn
dressed in flannel to call for our cat loping back
……………long. No new show of climbing bony elm limbs.

For hours we cinch to panic. Nothing brings him
……………more to mind than dirt. We looked
for his broken tail, his cockled fur,
……………now prepare for removing a truth
and other unfortunate failures.

……………In the kitchen, we advance in ellipses
through the day and its whirring.
……………The variations are comforting at the brim
of the house. The next morning, we study the door,
……………make him good again. There he is,

missing. Sunburning
……………against the black iris. When we later
walk the road, I scream at dogs for the luck.
……………Somewhere, the cat is in a fit
of scars. Within each other, we vex;

……………the moon bends. Night again and the insects
turn out their lights. Another mumbled rain,
……………clouds stuffed into the sky.

We move away from the nervous window,
……………not sorry for not knowing more.
Beneath our legs, nothing.
……………Irrelevant pills—I take one then another.

 

 

 

Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), which won the Dorset Prize. Her poems have appeared in The Missing Slate, RHINO, Slice, At Length, North American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the RL International Poetry Award, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship. She lives in New Mexico. www.laurencamp.com

 

Featured Image Credit: Elena G. Giorgi

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