Lauren Camp

Not Any Ship

We are a ship, I say in my black gloves.
A well-oiled ship, he confirms, concentrating
on ruddering our dinner forward: diced onions, mashed
garlic, a few brittle nuts. Our ship is on course tonight,
but the lowering mechanism either works,
or it jitters up and down without stopping.
A ship that gets as far as our dirt road.
A ship that watches stars for constellating stadiums.
Our ship occasionally forgets to feed the cat
or plant the daffodils. If it doesn’t sleep extra on Saturdays,
it is shaky. Our ship loves sex—the jungle
of an hour, construction of a cracked snail, the impossible
envelope of waveforms. Often, we mistake
our birds. One of us announces red back, white bulk,
get the book, and we search its name
until some other demand flares up—
the stove needs new burners, the carpet grows to shadows.
And the ocean continues
the shipwreck of explaining.
Whenever the spirit moves through, we are renewed
by the unanswered vista. I peer out. I offer to walk
the desert waves outside our window as long as it isn’t winter.
My love stands at the forepeak.
When night gets too salty, we eat our baked chicken
watching for pirates. The shore is truly beautiful, I say.
He takes my hand then, like he used to
when we were still dating. It is warm.
We’ll go at daybreak, he says, take our life vests and veer off.


Almost Two Minutes to Midnight

…the clock telling you the hour and the minute and the second,
with a white silence and a glowing, all certainty and knowing…
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

The clock rattles its echoes and minutes
tremble forward. Fogged glass. Instead, I look back
at the seeds of the past. Such a garden we had
in the West, a small plot, all the lettuce, nutrients,
flowers. A clock always needs action. The force
of instance and a hardworking second hand. Hawks leave
their perches, militaristic, seize itinerant
chickens. I’m ashamed of my greed
to be safe again in our kingdom
of kitchen. Carve up an onion. Wine. Of course
and the chance to stare across
as jays slather the berries. Against the portal another
hustle of sun. To the west: an expulsion
of blue and goats walk the yard by our road
down our shallow hill. So much to see and more
to miss. Above us, chinooks welt their patterns across
the blue sky. Solitary clicks purpose each day
so we never adjust to stasis. The future is like that, a chill
to the rhythm. We hold to our past and our rituals, wrapping
our arms on the limbs of the cat quiet
in her fur coat. Last hymn, the counterpoint of our wind
chimes. Crimes come early, late, never
loud. Hope in the country is down to an edge
like a fingernail bitten to root. I used to do this: bite
to a point where almost nothing could grow.

Lauren Camp is the author of five books of poems, including One Hundred Hungers, which won the Dorset Prize, and Took House (Tupelo Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in The Los Angeles ReviewPleiades, Poet Lore, Slice, DIAGRAM and other journals. She has received fellowships from The Black Earth Institute and The Taft-Nicholson Center, and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award, the Housatonic Book Award and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award.

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