Lauren Camp

Together We Take Aim: acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30 in. Celeste Goyer

Long After Light                                    


We could not come to an end, no matter how far

we walked, how many rinds of the city we saw,

the sun in wavering ribbons, glassed-in and twisting

off windows. Light to the grease

on the concrete. All day, we were in the world


of enthusiastic pigeons bending to cracks, and the enormous

design, and the fumes, and the architecture, those brown gray

stones. Everywhere, the proximity—tired faces,

incautious and possessive in some way

for the wide intersections, the grace


of the city’s deceptions. Complete in networks

of noise, my brother and I, when we had to, turned

against wind lifting graphite from the sidewalks,

to settle to details, to men warm

with waiting to earn the price of a day with successions


of backgammon, or swiped handbags. Of course

we’ve never slept on a sidewalk,

as they have. Of course, I don’t know

what my brother has done, but perhaps we’ve all been

sort of homeless. Somewhere in this insistent arena


someone just failed a fight, another refills

the morphine. City is disappearance—and sleight. More

doorways. And curbs, and let us be clear, every Friday

or Monday, others need to escape the whole hoarse

orbit of languages, complexions,


arbitrary wisdoms. The smell of the scale. The tick

of the sea of such power. And then we were deep down

train tunnels where long slow chords of movement brought us

closer and farther from plenty. How could we leave, but

we did—north to the cemetery


to see the last of our mother. To call love

unbearable and cry to the earth, then come back as the plum-

colored sun dipped down, seaming its diligence, handing off

hope to the neon. And we saw the city

muffle such emptiness with its own grand expanse.



The Year All We Have is a Small Map                  


Rosehips have opened their luscious pink mouths.

And loaded with orange, the paintbrush scrape

a quavery blue sky.

The ground is deep-set.

This bronze afternoon turns to donkey heat. Dirty fields

with trailers, lonely, squat, sharply recessed.

The warm body needs to learn what is taught.

The body in such weather: all salt, crack, thrown back.

We’ll home in a hurry to weigh 

each unruly light, pulling open

an empty suitcase, eighty photos of rocks.