Lauren Camp


At the end of a slippery dock, our shack
is whittled by another wind, and loops and loops

of waves keep lengthening, loading in
from the north. Against each window,

such pouring. A simultaneous reaction: racket
and rasp beneath replay.

Punished boats recede
to the gulls, run the rim of the lake.

From any view through these windows, we see
a thousand uneven images

reverse from the gait of the water.
See foaming, and say we’ll pray

for the claw of noise to slow.
When the door opens

to disturbance, long clouds row crows.
Waves run along, demanding grief

from the sky—not light
but hurtle, and we hear them: sharp

then notched, rise to descend again.
The cruel, chewing water.

The sky is folding.
Stickered wind and sopping cold.



And Somehow More Light

Next to the chokecherry, the wooden rail,
and steps up to the larger house. The summer
is already poured into a chair. A night and another
without anyone important, nothing to mention,
then a morning, springy around me. Auden once
wrote of suffering in art, that it exists,
but not all of us notice. After the last exhibit I saw,
the paintings followed me everywhere,
those oil-on-canvas deep gazes and details
and thick rippled colors. And when I entered
the day again, pushed the double doors open,
multiple layers and splashes of orange
played on the sky, which had soft scumbled
edges. I loved the particular gleam of horizon
and new gasps of my vision—unlike that flat
afternoon I left home. Which is, in a way,
what he was discussing. Auden, I mean,
in his poem, and I’m stretching the metaphor a little,
lingering on the most brilliant colors, but
the prerogative of desire is distance and choosing
what you’ll look at. So what if sometimes
it’s the incarnadine, seductive? Once I went
with my father to see a room of Rothkos
at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My dad couldn’t
handle his boredom. All those boxes. I stood
in front of them, crushed, for long minutes.
There were no edges! no innocence! The critics
argue whether the artist’s later works
were tragic, but there was something miraculous
happening—and that day, I couldn’t
let it resolve without me. Parallel variations;
sometimes you need them. As a girl, I collected
fireflies on hot summer evenings, running
around the backyard with a glass
jar, mouth open. Inside, the flies turned off
their continuous light. They silenced
their prism. Back then, I didn’t understand
loss or drifting, but now in the long arc
of summer, if I sit outside, a beer in one hand,
the trees will keep falling above me,
loosing their cotton, and insects will recklessly,
perilously quiver. I know I can’t capture them.
Wind comes in from the cemetery and park.
The sound of buzzing. Such thrilling lanterns.


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 many journals, including New England Review, Split This Rock, Poetry International, Boston Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. 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 a staff writer for Poets Reading the News and the producer/host of “Audio Saucepan” on Santa Fe Public Radio, a program that interweaves music with contemporary poetry.