BEI Fellow Readings: Lauren Camp

Recorded at the annual Black Earth Institute gathering: Art and Literature Lab, Madison; Oct 7th, 2017


Lauren Camp

Split the Root

Lauren Camp


I was deep in the raw rush of marching while gluttony
      formed its own equator. My sister has a tradition of not speaking
politics, which isn’t stoicism but occupation
      with the best leggings and vitamins. That is her Orangetheory and her body
has always been strong. Citizens enter again the chapel
      of impossible action. Beneath trees, my father is struggling
to trace his comprehension. He asks if I have anything at all to do
      and I picture the stream of protest phone calls to make, the buzzing
news headlines, the endless required tremble
      of perspective. Yes, I say. I keep busy. Since he began forgetting
he rifles through black specks of hindsight. He tells me plenty
      I don’t need to know. Executive orders roll in. My sister texts
with her drifts and home reliefs. My father is what some call demented,
      a word I can hardly speak without feeling
its brutality. Let’s just say he is neglecting the world and I’m glad.
      My sister is like lots of people, comfortable with a clarified thinness
of perception. My exercise is all the petitions
      I sign. I realize I will continue to hear the earth falter, to read
of more people pleading. How true the subtraction. I keep apprised
      of the evanescence and see churches
and dance clubs. A neighbor in my small village stood by my water meter
      and tried to drag me into the dirt of his hate
for the Sufis that moved in down the road.
      We can’t even hear the bells of their prayer. My sister’s replies always begin
with unless. There is almost no chance to stop thinking
      of those old Jewish ghosts that once lived this. Wanting to honey
their memories I make a new wish for their leftover spaces. Wrongs appear
      every night in another slumber party I’m having
with reporters. My dreams are so important. Now I’m exhausted
      and there are reams of bleached data. Few direct us to look
at what’s missing. My sister is lifting her weights, jogging
      between disappearance, petting her puppy, staying close to her myth
of forging her future. My sister is laughing.
      I think this over and over. She is the finest sister.
She has been part of me for so long. We shared
      a playground. My father took us in our Buick on trips and we sat
in the back, swimming in happiness, singing songs
     that only got worse as they continued. The car never quavered
because my father was a very good driver. When I can’t tend
      any of this, I put my littlest finger
in my husband’s mouth and let him draw out the fear.

first published at Love’s Executive Order: