Two Poems

Lauren Camp


To Count All the Prayers of Earth

The map of light moves above our home: coyote
bark, red-densing sumac, long lateral air. I only need to contain

the near. Though every ocher hovers beside me, I still creep
through on my knees and see farther

miniature losses: my old friend in her bed with a month
of small days ahead, the constant guns sorting

and halving our country. The callused gasp.
Wind moves either side through a week of grubby elections.

To limit what I clasp, I hand to hand dirt, shove the artemisias down
and they curl. Was transplanting a mistake? I want these roots

to stage ground by the narrow bands of fence
that my love built with calm while our country kept gnawing

streets and fisting its faiths. All this time I’ve been sated
in the house we bought when heat was tufting

the valley. That first summer, we invented
what we learned (mud, deadwood, storm) in ellipses

of rust and earth, and the following week
beckoned, and the next, and I lie, with knees open

while he divides the iris. Years and years of such secure
wind that sifts and slings and spoons. Bees suspicious

and spring again with its bewilderment. Listen:
I need what a mouth needs. Salt, sweet. And to push forth

every variance of green. Are my hands only good
sunk in the yard? I will keep dressing for the crows.


Everything is the Matter

Please could, please could, jam it not plus more sit in when.

—Gertrude Stein (from Tender Buttons)

From Facebook I read that giraffes are grazing
the endangered species list. We’re in a fierce kingdom
right now, filled with alarm and extra shootings and I’m biting
my palms into survival. Giraffes can run 35 miles
an hour. Our president has become one no one matters
to name. We all go around holding the punch
of our bruising. I don’t suppose we’re at the end
of the world, but my god: my husband
and I keep fighting—all claw and
ladder to our voices. Giraffes have high blood
pressure, small hearts. We stick to our tasks: servants
to sorrow. Pretty much non-stop. Giraffes live
in unstable herds. I get two sedate hours on the couch
in the middle of the night, slug a pill to reduce
the wedge of wide-eyed dystopia.
My husband reaches for the inappropriate light. We change
places. Perhaps all I can do is covet this
exhaustion. I go outside, look up to planets
to empty a riddle. Young giraffes bend
necks back to hind legs to calm
or sleep. Between the circle of head and vacancy
of head, a swivel. This shape knows
a time of interior. Right now, I’m not glad
to be human. I pull its intentions. Everywhere I go
everyone swords to opinions. What we worship, where
we break. Did you know people make good luck
bracelets from giraffe tails? Intimate, beautiful
wrists held by the luxury. I will miss the giraffes.
Dawn ramps its light. In the singe
of morning, I hear the highway draw out its leaving, curve away
from my chapped village and I think of the long neck
of resolve. I pray for each heartbeat
of earth. Want a familiar other than ghosts.