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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 3: Absence

Lauren Camp

Trumpet vine blossoms reach high
in private. On the phone, I hear Dad drift

               towards the next
               clipped thought and each simple

lunch. His words dip, drowsy, a growl
heading nowhere and we’re mixed up

               with sparse reinforced darkness. No need
               to roundabout; my throat is fixed in flecks

of each switched misery
as he counts again the hours, all

               most radiant. He says it is raining.
               The light is extraordinary in its climb

to the reflection of my window; its seeing-into
is rarely so alert. A finch brings a stick

               and another to the same nest
               he builds each year. Each fine stem hitched

on the beam of the porch. Now almost
a home. We all call our hard edges

               home. Each year the nest holds a clutch.
               My father attaches to another

fraying or the ordinary
study of currency or eternity. Each year

               the brood is taken or dropped.
               Empty eaves, the wind, and now his mind.
Great-Horned Owl
It is almost time. Where the owl sits, a scrawled moon
glorifies his back. The horizon has become trees

in a line, the lines inside a din of winter.
He assumes the yellow-eyed stare

of the ravenous. His stuttering call drops
from snags and ledges. Now, the owl’s cloak of gray

vaults the road. We can hardly breathe. Such bracing.
We know what it is to pursue prey, to be pursued,

to offer others our softest feathers.
The bird rides the clean dry cold

to another movement, another seize in the ghostly night.
At the dinner table, we listen

to the ripping. The grip is fierce. Finished,
the owl rests—sovereign, and we do not want to see.
Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), which won the Dorset Prize. Her poems have appeared in Flyway, The Fourth River,, North American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and elsewhere. Some of her poems have been translated into Turkish, Mandarin and Spanish. She is the producer and host of Santa Fe Public Radio’s “Audio Saucepan,” which interweaves music with contemporary poetry.



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