Better Not

                  Let me wander such time now—

 

                                               When I tell him I’m taking two planes

to see him, he asks what I will do if he’s caught

                  in the elevator. I’ll wait, I say, and wait

 

becomes all I can carry with my ears. The measure I hear

is a margin. He is softer. My father. His hand warm brown with pale

 

                           knuckles. Myth is his history. Only some old

                           hair. Sebaceous skin. The third day of sometimes

 

                           steady silence.

                       When I’m with him I notice he tips

left. Must be an interference. I shave his neck, peel the folds

 

and run the razor: sift, husk, vanish the dark

                           that once curled there. Later

this week I’ll find sugar sand and oak pollen. Sleuth

 

a cypress path for swallowtail. I am building calm

for this work of ending.

                                    A stem, a trunk. On logging roads

in the Ozarks, I’ve been told they ask, “who are your people?” Which means

 

                                                   somewhere you belong. Means a good affliction

 

                           to field such love. Sometimes I believe myself

hawk for how I grab at the miles

 

of his near losses. My friends will drive past

whatever pokes up, point out the slithering. And when

 

                           every place is crowded with tedium or clouds, I will be glad

                                                   to look. I will look.

LAUREN CAMP is the author of four poetry collections. Her poems appear in The Los Angeles ReviewPleiadesPoet Lore, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Dorset Prize, a Black Earth Institute fellowship, residencies from Willapa Bay AiR and The Taft-Nicholson Center, and a finalist citation for the Arab American Book Award.