Lauren Camp

Getting to What I Know

I am desperate to praise the pleached yuccas

on that corner. A red bench and beetles, a labyrinth

moving a thousand arounds. Love, I’ve never looked

at our village this way: past the economics of consoling

low orbit, the strata embroidered, breathless

crevices. I’m so often simply porched beneath mountains

of light. We’ve earned a trip to Lisbon or Chennai

but can’t make ourselves crosscheck the boxes

to get there, can’t quite exit this marbling sun with its languid

pinks and migrations of cranes. Here, everything ghosts

into terrifying lusts and gutting wind; everyone’s

rattled. Juniper pollen, absence. We workhorse for hours

and flippant exhaustion. Pull meat from the grill

then scrub tines till our arms ache. Rinse off the cactus

when rain won’t give its crystals. But four years ago

we flew to the southern stone of the Americas.

Beneath clouds, we said little but folded your mother’s ash

to weather-carved ruins, to a constant that smelled

of elaborate monkeys. The moon was sipping

moist air. We sat with our empty cupped hands. Looked

at salvaged maps to find a next path. Walls, castles,

city buildings, beaches. Crucial rips down the center

showed us direction long as a wing.

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Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press), winner of the American Fiction Award in Poetry. Other honors include the Dorset Prize and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award and New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and The Los Angeles Review, and has been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, Serbian, and Arabic. www.laurencamp.com

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