Monday, 16 January 2017

Everything Must Go!                       

by Lauren Camp

Trees gaze down through gauze of August.
I drive the thermal air on a narrow road rimmed
with orange barrels. Many dashes disappear beneath the car.

The trunk is stuffed with bags of shirts, a box
of bras, boots, 2 pair thick black slacks.
Last year’s weary garments: all folds and holes

and crossed with wrinkles. My headlights wink the road.
The radio keeps talking, disfigured into news and static.
I nod like a metronome to the ardent strokes

of a woman’s voice, the wars I don’t take time to hear.
Red-petaled bee balm—rowdy, in reunion—
form a lavish congregation at the shoulder.

Joan’s directions tighten to successive loops
beneath the waxy breeze of juniper.
She says to cross the ditch, its boundaries like syrup

from last night’s arrogant rain.
Small slaps of mud hatch the car, and in the air,
ravens scrape the sky. The glitched road opens

to an easy mark past the chicken shack.
At her house I park in sludge, lug in bags, box
and particles of storm. This trip to shop

in Joan’s backyard where clothes flop on folding tables,
posing. Look! a purple top with alabaster buttons.
To build a wardrobe from other closets,

women strip to cellulite, try on hours of adornment.
I hand a stranger a size 8 skirt. Cobalt blue!
And before long we each peel off what isn’t wearable,

toss out gifts we’ve never owned. We form a chorus—
yes or no pressed down to how to fix it.
Listen again: we rush the grass to grab at free.

We are torn, long, rolled, our footprints in Joan’s unruly ferns.
We test the length of sleeve, a back
that opens widely. Gather desire and cast it off.
In the mirror of each other, we start over, flimsy, sweaty.
Every find pushed in paper bags shoved behind geraniums.
Then, in the car, the bags, a box, new dust,

every form from someone else’s flesh, the afternoon immense
and sudden. I drive the distance between bumblebees
and mountains, the road long and slow and singing.

* * * * *

"Everything Must Go!" was first published in Your Impossible Voice.

Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), winner of the Dorset Prize. Her poems have been published in New England Review, Poetry International, Cultural Weekly, Beloit Poetry Journal and as a Poem-a-Day for Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship. She is a staff writer for Poets Reading the News and the producer/host of “Audio Saucepan” on Santa Fe Public Radio, a program that interweaves music with contemporary poetry.