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Learn the Silken Rendering
She says I have the most rape-able voice in the building.
as a violin bow over a bridge.
The lucky hum of plums and peaches.
Or a tangle of
lingering. Skin and seeds.
Every Sunday—hiss, brink, a script stroked by vowels.
Week after week, she offers me ripe slices of pear on a blue glass plate.
Crystalline sound, twang or dirge,
there is such sin in it. Voice of kneel and cunt, of hunt and loot.
Between songs, I give her two pair
of my dangly earrings.
They no longer fit me.
I turn around, talk reason into a microphone to a blank wall
in a voice scuffed, already flung,
then drive home like hell-fire on back-country roads sculpted to snowfall.
The moon above me draws an effortless circle
in multiples, a sort of clockwork
through the anatomy of night’s slap and poses.
Let’s say I don’t want to be alone with those animal selves
who are otherwise. Let’s say
last week I was alone in a heap
and night was thumps and silt. Say the voice pulls a blanket
over its rich silk murmur, that the flesh is hidden. I don’t know
how close to talk that my lips stop the quiet.
Let’s say hummingbird wings. Try to stop the voice that brings up my skirt.
I picked pears on a kibbutz when I was 17.
Early morning, open-ended. Day after day. Above me,
the birds were building claws.
Let’s say I always lick the juice off the plate.
The media has been promising precipitation,
and the clumsy birds
slant through premonitions.
There is so much of nothing
in the desert,
and we are enthusiastic even
snowflakes striking the dirt
like sequins. There is no sun
to believe in. I believe
in the edge of anything’s feathers,
the way some dark
little bird is hungering
under the sumac. I believe a policeman
killed his teenage daughters
in the town I used to shop in. Somewhere else
there isn’t anything left
to purchase, and sometimes
no place is greener
than this dirt road
or this ridiculous winter.
The hollow turns out to be less
of a ruin than the whole
in line at the market, the city ignoring
the homeless when the days
are this short
of their hours, the temperature clunking
at zero, and wind flaying
the sky. I believe the homeless
are still holding signs,
their black marker promising
how long we are fortunate, saying
what we already know, that we need
to hunger, to believe nothing
Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), winner of the Dorset Prize. Her poems have appeared in New England Review, Poetry International, North American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. Other literary honors include the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award and prizes from RHINOand Western Humanities Review. She is a Black Earth Institute Fellow and the producer/host of “Audio Saucepan” on Santa Fe Public Radio. Her website is www.laurencamp.com.
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