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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

Lauren Camp

A Door Opening, A Step Up

                                     Others suit up and enter the city.
                                     She sits in the park,
                                     acknowledging the slow
sorrowful tune of diesel buses
                                     hurrying past the roses,
                                     past the echo and flow of human bodies
oozing from gaping glass buildings
                                     of steel-framed construction.
                                     She has all but relinquished
the stretched nylon of late night,
                                     and the sun is now her only lover
                                     as she waits for sudden happiness.
Cell by cell, she presses herself
                                     into the socket of morning,
                                     her lips carefully humming.
Her lips carefully humming
                                     into the socket of morning,
                                     cell by cell, she presses herself,
                                     as she waits for sudden happiness,
and the sun is now her only lover.
                                     The stretched nylon of late night
                                     she has all but relinquished.
Steel-framed construction
                                     oozes from gaping glass buildings,
                                     past the echo and flow of human bodies
                                     hurrying past the roses,
                                     and the sorrowful tune of diesel buses.
Acknowledging the slow,
                                     she sits in the park as
                                     others suit up and enter the city.


When she was three, her father took her by subway to his office
on Wall Street. The soft petals of her hand folded to the slope
of his palm, and flattened in his singular grip. She belonged to him.
He shielded her contours of thought. The train was inscribed with slathers
of paint, and it rolled through a series of cages, past murky buildings
looped with street words and wire, tall dimensions and boxes of gray.
Billboards bounced by, scattering views she could read: free, now, no.
The train traveled a sinuous hole, the tubing of dark, a graveyard
of tunnels. It plunged its light down the track, brushing its forehead
on a tight funnel of grime. A din seized up, hurtling forward.
Room after room sealed with windows. They were in a thin shell
of metal, all canals and corridors – like riding inside an ear.
The girl and her father hurtled through sound so loud it was silent.
Out of the train, she saw people puddled on platforms, deep
in the brine of themselves. No one gave half an eye to her long Arab lashes.
The father tugged the small reed of the girl past a forest of vendors
and men loaded in suits to the escalator elevator cubicle on the 31st floor.
The girl spent the morning in the shadow of her grandfather’s spicescented
cordovan shoes. She typed as her father did, one-fingered
pushing at keys until strange language chanted from paper.
At noon, they descended past windows and surface past tapered hours
and hallways past doors closed in the building past banter
past visible breath on the people out to the street gasps and steps.
The girl looked up into glass heavens and elaborate men stained
the color of all their emotions. At Chock Full o’ Nuts, she nibbled
some five-sided crackers, and spun on a stool toward a porcelain cup
filled with soup. Though everyone talked, she heard nothing but Dad.
Lauren Camp lives in a farming village in New Mexico. This Business of Wisdom, her first poetry collection, was published by West End Press. She is the editor of Which Silk Shirt, a blog about poetry, and Notes To Cecil, an evolving installation of spontaneous poetry and composed photographs on Tumblr. Co-winner of The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, 2012, her poems have appeared in J Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, Linebreak, and you are here. She has also guest edited special sections for World Literature Today (on jazz poetry) and for Malpaís Review (on the poetry of Iraq). On Sundays, she hosts “Audio Saucepan,” a global music/poetry program on Santa Fe Public Radio.


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