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I have bourboned my lips for obedient sleep
in the room where we read about baffled or repentant
love. We insist on arranging our bodies

in far-flung directions. The cat fast awakened begins
to wail. I open the door, clinging at dark, and search
each swerve for fur. Today I heard an activist say we must confess

and accuse. Name what is treatable, ruined.
I roll out and lie on the couch in this home
with its slender supplies: counterpoint and wrinkled

candles, a plastic tub of sugar, a curtain.
The air is cold and selfish.
Tomorrow the church down the road will offer the same page

of limitless reflection. My neighbors exist
in that little stone room, in the Eden
of ashen blood. Where figures and heavy ropes knot

and hold onto invocation. Each day, I look in the mirror for God
and still see my own scrambled image.
You can get there (church) past a house that never could grow

its walls to the roof. Keep on past flounced chamisa,
flattened snakes, bird feathers, a truck battered gray
with three wheels. I have never been inside.

I used to pray before I understood the sum of it and now count
fractions of hymns I remember as mending.
Wind moves again, trees tight in the spell

of possession. An altar of aspens. The bees sit and murmur.
The man must be giving the sermon. Another storm
is coming. The glory of the desert is to bless what diminishes.



Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo). Winner of the Dorset Prize and a finalist for the Arab American Book Award, her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic.




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