Lauren Camp

Pardon

Pardon my milk, hair, latex, and those ruminations
on amnesia. I fell twice in a safe house
on Sunday morning. The man who caught the slump of me
followed the creek of my seizures. His whiskers on my back
were at first unfamiliar, then song

against my slipped self. Down a hallway, we step-knifed;
he whispered to move where the light
was still grazing, but the room remained
as divisions. I judged by angular shadows,
my fingers on the wall. Was this the distant oil

of home? My mind was carved up,
exhausted, my torso still twisted. Now, my heartbeat
on the monitor is low grass
in pasture. I took the long way here
to fluorescence. A guy in pale blue scans and reenters

my last places with ubiquitous technology
and buzzing. He’s hunting for colors
as answers. This week ate and ate
at my table, and I offered it
more with my blessing

of insistence. Tied into classes, I pulled
twenty five girls with similar names—like petals
or plumes—through a museum of flowers. Imagine sunup
in each picture, the land supple,
I told them. They left their hair in the galleries.

I trailed them in oversized sunglasses, scumbling
my directions. We’d come to the edge
of the pigments. We could not linger; I hurried them forward
to the street corner, and back inside, where we jeweled
their wonderful infinities

with little black lines, and they stood flecked
with hope in their fragile bothered sentences,
their bow-bright voices and phobias
Pardon my reddish demeanor. It’s summer—wind blown
through the annex and then sky’s altered bruise.
 
 
 
 
The proof of feud

is a geometrical chain of complaint, crisscrossed with vacant displeasure:
if the last word is less than what she wanted, the next is more blistered.

We try not to notice his inert lack of exit, her push-to-
shove in each new direction. It’s always like this: their rime-

coated consonant-stops, those ellipses held to for years, his sullen qualms,
her fingertip-range of reaction. There’s a slight pigment of red

in his answer. Half a won’t can’t take you anywhere, and now we’re deep
in the mountains, trying to gather what’s broken, discarded.

She’s charring each dear: dark with precision. Outside, a crescent moon
sits on its back in a framework of rocking, adding time to time

until day is unable to rise. The statue they bought years ago holds a palm
to its forehead in the churn and dispersal of light. On the third day,

he takes what he can of her pauses. I mumble the logic
of watching from diligent corners. Night keeps to its sinking.

 

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Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), which won the Dorset Prize. Her poems have appeared in New England Review, Poetry International, Slice, The Seattle Review, World Literature Today, Beloit Poetry Journal and elsewhere. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, an Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a fellowship with the Black Earth Institute. She is the producer and host of Santa Fe Public Radio’s “Audio Saucepan,” which interweaves music with contemporary poetry. www.laurencamp.com.