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Lauren Camp in the Columbia Journal

Lauren Camp’s Poem “Red’s Shrewdness” was published in the Columbia Journal on March 31, 2020. Read the Columbia Journal Here.


“Red’s Shrewdness” by Lauren Camp

Silence is so accurate.”—Mark Rothko

That winter when winter was thick as a knot, Rothko sat
sluggish in long-johns and warm black
socks, eyes plagued to surface
and every line caught in his wrist as a force
to reign the harsh range of orange and Russian
gold, to make whole
rectangles with a red slit sworn to a center
or smashed against edges. The imageless
goal of the paintings was to expand
darkness which is also a heaven. That incessant
morning was cold. The skid
of the brush between minutes. Consider the fatigue
to have too much, and all of it
bleeding together. The blocks of black
and muckraked blue, each hue nearly a possession
to tender the heart
which I need when I hear my father’s old voice
on the phone. How he says he is getting things off his mind
when his mind is a void he has
to peer through. He tells me he is glad
to be liberated of the money
he saved all his life, and sorry he peed in my sister’s slick red
convertible that opens like a box
to sunlight. His thoughts dose again and he’s enthralled
she didn’t get upset, that the slack of his bladder
didn’t leave pigment. Red goes on
in my cavernous eyes.

Image Credit: “Beta-Amyloid Plaques and Tau in the Brain — 38686503251” (27 November 2017) from the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health via the NIH Image Gallery on Flickr.

About the author

Lauren Camp is the author of five poetry collections, including Took House, which will be published by Tupelo Press in 2020. Winner of the Dorset Prize, Lauren has also received fellowships from The Black Earth Institute and The Taft-Nicholson Center, and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award, the Housatonic Book Award, and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. She has presented her poems at the original Mayo Clinic, and seen her work translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish and Arabic. She lives and teaches in New Mexico. Visit her online at www.laurencamp.com.

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