A line can’t hold anything, but could be long or longer than a pulse. Toward breeze or toward the flash of fish, wherever it’s going it goes without weight. Curbs, bridges, halves. Wood stacked for the winter. A braid, pins in the hem of partially-wrought pants, elk prints reduced to soft dirt. As the feathers of the eagle. It raises or lowers deepening hours. The chainsaw prepares for the next day. Makes audible what muscles anguish. Someone cuts and someone looks out a window at the reversal, at the detached. The path of a snow shovel. All I knew later was that I grew up in a place that demanded I wait. A line left bare. The border. A road for a truck through every enticing slice of the desert. A fracture. Downshift, brake, tight turn and thistle. From a dark opening, the sky organized with mountains and habits of sunsets. Undeciphered, a line reassures. Branches bend in the wake of a whole and each knows a line scarce as its likeness. A flight. A skeleton free its founder. First, a bus along the city then a train south to gaps of memory. A line with its laws to a top and an earth, stripped of a grasp or a flutter. A ghosting but not a conclusion: a line that eases its own circulation. To be empty the Tao says is to be patient.
We stood in the caramel dawn watching the iron earth warm and tremble there was nothing to do but the wind hung over and again broke our hearts so we wouldn’t look up we kneeled down in worship watching the spines of the cacti and their strategizing elbows of bloom we were caught between repetition and permission caught in the praise of those small constellations leaning in close to each tuck and split we didn’t see the long corridor of mountains or each other’s faces only the country of hope rising from gravel not the danger the bitter the entangled weeds we took as commandment the sun at our necks and a few inches of color this corner was our planet that turned round far better than the rest we might witness what a year when all we saw could evaporate ravens winged through the sky harassing the power lines we heard them of course plying their hunger there was depth in this almost bare place and peace as we crouched saying little even with breath.
Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers, which won the Dorset Prize and honorable mention for the Arab American Book Award. Her poems appear in Slice, Ecotone, Boston Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Poem-a-Day. A Black Earth Institute Fellow, she lives and teaches in New Mexico.