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Lauren Camp

Time Is Location

Night Sea

Have We Done What Has to Be Done

Time Is Location

After a drizzle of sun and repeated hours
of compulsory inattention, I walk the road that curves

through this small town hauling its politics; think
my thoughts in small pieces. Cars current past me,

returning from church. For days, the sky has held
its labor, and limbs and leaves stayed wet as boats.

I don’t know why I am working. I don’t have to work
this hard to whack open the life of another person

with amiable eyes. A lone tree exists in a field
of tall grasses. I walk straight in, sure the path will trench

beside water. Grass heightens then slumps over
what must be a ground. An acoustic wind, a chord

of the grass swish. Two nights ago, the subject
at dinner was knocking ourselves on our means and agility

and I think of the young student who ran breathless
to catch me after class one winter’s night,

who told me in a tight tiny voice she
has such self-loathing when she writes. Even that night

the desert was sure of its intricate rendering,
the real line of thought. In the fringe

of the bay, my sneakers crab
what’s loose and impossible to follow. There are holes.

I don’t know how to aim for a place that’s less
rustle, how to drowse when I’m deep

in the glory and blazing. I twist my ankle.
A woman in black at a bench fills the air with pliable

t’ai chi. A body transformed, crowning
and dipping. Dense vegetation. The sun is spinning

in its happy eccentricities. Today, I won’t be ambitious.
I’m full of the tangible faith for lingering,

but we all declare with our hands what we want to believe.
This is just a day and there are more further on.

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Night Sea

Free to wild, I lie
on my back simply eyeing

the image of air and hear

the sky strong with its beating
heart, its old stars loosened

to slivers. Later I will watch videos
of a whale calf suckling

for the first time. I think of my husband’s heart.

He can always hear the undertow,
beats steady to measure

a defect. My thoughts forgive space
its promise. Here and there, all beginnings:

a rip, a privilege. Later I will lull

to a trail
moonlight has magnified, and shrug off

myself. How is it everything exists as I clear
my mind? Porous water, the touch

of reason: clamholes, silver wings

like glitter. It’s a risk
to draw such dominion

over disappearance. There are many lines
to a boat. I feel it carrying me,

suspended above the permeable water.

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Have We Done What Has to Be Done

Urgent, we razorzip and fleece
every particle. The broom’s reluctant bristles take helpings

of snow. My love’s sun-
simmered face, lined and leaning down: perfect

view. Over there, the sky
has gushed its blue in one entitled
corner. The lopsided resolve of small grappling birds eating

their fat, and above, those thin dimensions of clouds tensed
like horses. I had dreamt of silence and told him

about it as I always do. He laughed, thirsty
for more. In flannel sheets, we dug

against our grief of this
unsewn world. Every morning, the cusp of prayer drifts
from my back to his front as the sun

begins forking at day, twisting west. So slow
such living: to step

into a sweep to a stone and move up
or down, strengthening

foot dints and heels where the holes hold their empty
spread. Somewhere men swallow
their fortune. At the church, trees compass

in wind throb, astonished. The wind won’t let danger attach
to savage greed. My love who is underemployed, chafes

in his cap. I keep taking photos, flake-tasseled in the white
hullabaloo that will wither in hours. Glossed vibrations dowse

the electrical line.
(A lunge, a crow, somewhere a dulled storm, the compression
of a center.) Rather than less, we have this.

After awhile, we eat cakes
with berries with our blue fingers. It is all

rebellion: how we can lose ourselves
in the lulling, tending our norm.

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Lauren Camp is the author of four books, including One Hundred Hungers, winner of the Dorset Prize and finalist for the Arab American Book Award. Her most recent collection is Turquoise Door. Her poems have appeared in North American Review, Tampa Review, World Literature Today, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. She has presented her poems at the original Mayo Clinic, and seen her work translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish and Arabic.

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