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Episodic Parallels, More Aunt, Less Moon

Trucks muscle aggressions down Second and I

race across, a little late, raising my arms in greeting. She sees

my form. How holy the eager heart. We move inside

the lean light of the diner. Her wide voice whittles

its tempers from a thick pulp to a diaphanous

weave. Had it not been for that, I might’nt have thought

to a far time when I was still milk and silly. When the moon

and its waxy white busted her open. The surge

of the Unification Church hung over—forcing, and she

followed its crescents. You know, back then there were two

verbs: trust and flight. How much enough is enough my father asked

as he and my mother tugged her from plentiful failure,

from faith, unstitching her logic. Took her to the small

room she rented with a rectangle of couch

and bed, a plastic bin of albums: The Who, The Dead. Shifty

rug, a vase of wandering daisies. Again, she went

by the pigeons. Again, she stood with her soliloquies

and theories and candles at the airport, dealing

flowers. A focus, an axis. This was years ago. I couldn’t

feel the orbit of shamans. Didn’t know life had many

menus. I watched out the window at the journey. Now, here,

midday, midtown in this mustardy light, our hands loose

on Formica, she mentions memory as a suitcase and folds

into it only what she can carry. Honey, do you want more,

the waitress asks, a stained coffeepot in her hand. My aunt

shakes her full face. Hours turn willingly. All the past is the rest

of the garish city. At one point, we look to the streets

eager to overwhelm our eyes. To move off

the bruise of the worse lying still in our laps. What is life

but another loneliness, lights out? Our talk rises

and falls, becomes soft. Then we are done; we walk out

to everyone else’s scene, look at the comma of street, look

to the low moon.


Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press), which Publishers Weekly calls a “stirring, original collection.” Her poems have appeared in Witness, Poet Lore, Kenyon Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Los Angeles Review, and previously in J Journal. Honors include the Dorset Prize and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. Her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic.


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