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Two Poems by Lauren K. Carlson

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Dawn on the 45th Parallel

Daybreak makes
me see three-
dimensions flat.

I see black
paper instead
of poplars.

The world
a child’s cut-out
scrap. My son

and I cast long
featureless shadows,
matte.

Light breaking
the same way waters carve
banks and clay:

what it hits, it moves—
as unbidden creatures
diffuse through

wetland’s sloughs.
Leopard frog, muskrat,
great blue

heron.

   

 

The Ground is Not Down

There was someone,
in girlhood, I loved.

It was easy, like not giving up.
I didn’t even need

to try. All I needed
was to not stop

until I was dead.
Staying isn’t the same

as striving. It’s yielding
as a body must yield

because gravity. Like how up
and down aren’t rendered

by how I perceive them.
They’re rendered by force.

How the earth’s center
pulls everything toward it.

How a bridge’s supports
pitch to account for earth’s curve.

How the earth bids all things
made or born

surrender, surrender.

 

  

  

Lauren K. CarlsonLauren K. Carlson is the author of a chapbook Animals I Have Killed and has published recent work in River Mouth Review, Salamander, Waxwing and Ploughshares Blog. Winner of the 2022 Levis Stipend for her work-in-progress, she reads for Palette Poetry and is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. For more info, see www.laurenkcarlson.com.

Header photo by William T. Smith, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Lauren K. Carlson by Erik Carlson.

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