Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Plucking the Lake from Devotion

by Lauren Camp

The music of worship needs sometimes to echo
a body of water, the makers of breath
to be saved by unfaltering nature,
to be drawn from their traces, and travel
above to a clearing. So you might understand why
we should not be allowed to wander
into every larkspur and trail fork, why we must leave
some domains in the distance, not structure a day
with backpacks and bootprints
around someone’s temple—the depth that holds
context for hope. Reality is sometimes more
myth than contours. I’m narrowing down to a specific
soil in the desert and a time older
than the sum of its parts. When water had edges
and basins and pine into distance. The version
most often repeated claims two eagle plumes
sited a pueblo on a land draped with bare places.
In dust and from dust, strong arms wrought repeating
walls and ladders to fathom the sky. Wind bent
and reshaped and vanished. The people lived
in dimensions of owl between dawn and moon. Lived hard
in their origins as cool water flowed
from the mountain. Water was favor, and they named
its crossing for fields, fire and horses. Hawks passed above
and aimed with grand movement. Around them
over time, the people saw violence—new roads, wire fences
and closure. The crowd of such disruption creased
their reason but they bent again with stone
to the corn, transferred thought back to the sparing
desert, returned up their rungs. To gather their senses
they climbed past the amber
hair of the deer through sun-glare and hills
to a lake far from the near earth
of the normal. The vessel of nothing but tears,
to each other’s reflection. They went to the lake to rename
their universe, to say Not today Not
tomorrow, and to measure the cause
of their home and of regular days. At the lake ripples
choired, open-mouthed. And look, here’s a danger line: the lake
belonged to the people. To catch their pleas
and whatever they do when they need
another essential beginning. The strong people
might only have needed the repentant light. Or they might
have offered their flaws or other injustice. I’ll never know.
And you should never know, and that’s the importance.
When I read about the lake’s acquisition, I imagine
spirited flowers that spiral up
beside water. We all want to be changed
by such colors. The truth is other people were given
permission to hike the beautiful earth
and photograph its shimmers. Borrow the blue.
Tell me when do you want others in your prayers? Tell me
how a lake could be taken. The strong people took
truth as burden, but remembered standing safe
against sky when the lake was glad to see them.
Years crawled over the water without offering
this private sequential shape for wounded refrains
and invocations. A request isn’t always
a solution. The people asked in languages for the extravagant
muscle of water, its many windows. They asked
its solace. They asked and asked
and with drummed cadence. For 64 years, they asked
with dented voices, shuffling vowels.
And when the lake was returned, they planted their feet
in its mist, offered it wings, bones and their endings.

* * * * *

"Plucking the Lake from Devotion" is from Turquoise Door (3: A Taos Press, 2018) by Lauren Camp.

Lauren Camp is the author of four books of poems. Her work has been honored with the Dorset Prize, fellowships from Black Earth Institute and The Taft-Nicholson Center, and a finalist citation for the Arab American Book Award. Her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish and Arabic.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Such power here, and this: "The strong people took
    truth as burden."