Hours of Brightness                                                                                         —Lauren Camp

We woke to the map of England or Paris. Now alert
about Asia, or contemporary versions of the green
of Sweden that made us afraid of the long
side of oceans. We woke and we readied
to wake. The atlas we used to love
for its aggregate had turned to compartments
of danger, not countries, continents,
mountains we’d hope to climb or museums
to study. Every hour, there are people who choose
to crook bridges, concerts and markets
to leave less. Thousands of miles
and miles, and overturned
lives, and this poem is a ruin
of burdens: all those streets, concerts and markets.
I have always been jealous
of people’s travels, how they manage to begin
once upon a time with every winter
they spend in Hawaii, each spring in the restful
blue hip of Greece. My husband and I made the bed, pulling taut
our sheets, and the bed was still a meadow,
a market, inviting. Our house in the village
could be described as imperfect, but our house
peddles its pleasures: dust
in the corners and ant workers purging
the cat dish. I have no perception of ideal. Our bed is soft
with small therapies for drifting
or silence, and the huge story
of moon is one of life’s repeatable
lessons. It is almost impossible to resist wanting
the conclusion of any journey, craving
one’s own framework
for sleeping. But now I’m confessing to a failure
to leaving. Even in my small town,
there are encounters. Even in Walmart
one can be hijacked beside the pharmaceuticals.
I’ve seen it happen. Get up lazybones, my mother said
every morning, as I burrowed my head
deeper, bedecked by the dark
under the blankets. Rise and shine, she’d trill as she swept
through the room. I’ve never been ready
for a day’s most voluptuous edge.
Those hours of brightness have consequence.


Lauren Camp

Lauren Camp is the author of three books, including One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press), finalist for the Arab American Book Award and winner of the Dorset Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Love's Executive Order, Crazyhorse, Boston Review, Asymptote, Poem-a-Day and elsewhere. A 2018 Visiting Scholar/Poet for the Mayo Clinic (MN) and the recipient of a Black Earth Institute Fellowship, she lives and teaches in New Mexico. www.laurencamp.com

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© 2018