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Lauren Camp



She hung her straight language
on landscape; no metaphor, no symbols.
The letters scarfed and bristled the low-lying land,
mapping each worry with motion,
placing direction against the horizon:

a dozen signs. Now we could no longer peer
into a glass-blue future, see all sun-drenched
sides of forgetfulness, sky-murmur,
morning and mile markers.
We waited past twilight to the strong and tight dark,

then took a claw hammer to atmosphere,
pulled out that clasped language,
its arrows, the pierce of each notice, each sign.
We were delinquent,
but wanted absence to settle to snow.

We collaborated with coyote howl, chamisa,
the ditch to release her inclination
and guidance, reinforcing the flare of nothingness
and edicts and secrets of desert.

We refigured that space back
to invisible expression. We—in our parkas
and caps on the crumbly road
removed those dozen obstacles
with sharp tools and our worn winter skin.

When we were finished, a hank of moon
was suspended above. The pear tree barked
with approval, the grass
with its own reasons and winter-gray hair.
How good the hush sounded with its crisscross

of traces, not yelling or zigging
its causes, not pointing directly. No black
aggression. And right there—a favorite
path. Shadows rebuilt in tandem. Without indication,
quiet could tell us which way to turn.

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Lauren Camp is the author of three books, including One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), which won the Dorset Prize. Her poems have appeared in New England Review, Poetry International, Slice, Boston Review and Beloit Poetry Journal. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, prizes from RHINO and Western Humanities Review, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship. She is the producer/host of “Audio Saucepan” on Santa Fe Public Radio, a program that interweaves music with contemporary poetry.

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