Cleaning Out My Father’s Apartment
              —Lauren Camp

I am in the back of his bedroom, in a cornice of the city
that shows all the gutters, the river, and lights.
Filmy moths fold in the shower. His ornate pipes,
with their heads and filigree, recline in a rack.
Around me, boxes structured with riddles, with thin
papers, moments. My job today is to figure the truth
from the garbage. There is no clutching every letter
from barracks in Frankfurt. I sort blue slacks on tight
clawing hangers, the resting thumbnails of butter
stacked in wee plastic cups in his fridge, seven
condoms, his teeth clacked on the desk
in conspicuous pink losses. All his nights
before this one. All his hoards. I touch the impossible
plots of the future. He’s stuck in a Florida memory unit
where he recounts the hours from AM to PM.
When the sun casts back, he doesn’t know it has gone.
I go room to room with my rudimentary understanding
of valuing wheat pennies, piano rolls, crystal. The past flips
into the incinerator. The past is the color of the marble-
topped tables we’re giving away. My brother’s white car
leads the Indian rugs to a Goodwill box already
stuffed to its face. We will take what’s left
to auction. I’ve seen everything and forgiven even that
once hardest day. Bubble it up, what has haunted
this life. It goes so fast. I wonder how to be tender.
A cleaning crew sweeps. Now, ammonia. Buckets of water.

Lauren Camp

Lauren Camp is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Turquoise Door. Her third book One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), won the Dorset Prize and was a finalist for the Arab American Book Award and the Housatonic Book Award. Lauren’s poems have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Slice,, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. An emeritus fellow of the Black Earth Institute, she lives and teaches in New Mexico.

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2019