“Color Coded” by Lauren Camp
Since no one ever wanted to paint me,
I took a brush elsewhere in the city—
behind the white fence, into night.
To my husband I said Find me there
with the collapsible blue.
What? he asked. Do I have to trail you
through Dame’s rocket and upended furniture?
I readied the skin and fat
of my small piece of purpose, so tired
of tallying a landscape to see it slung
on screws for a month on a wall. The distance
was visible either way. By the time I had an audience
and had tucked one drift
of my insistent color theory around them,
I understood multiplicity. Perhaps I was only
surrounded with the discarded: shape
to logic, the absence of faces.
But whatever I saw was the truth.
Among my many actions, I continued
to twist my wrist.
I fingered fat licks of oil,
my work always waiting for surrender.
Such mercy to need it. This was eight years ago.
He was happy, my husband,
that I put a red box in the left corner
when I was unsettled. He told me so
as I laid it beyond the limits of horizon.
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Lauren Camp Artist Statement:
Arab American poet Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred
Hungers, winner of the Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press, 2016). One Hundred Hungers is a work of
imagination, research and myth about her father’s childhood in Baghdad and her interaction with
the rituals and language of his culture. Writer Margaret Randall has said, “More than simply
excellent poems, this book is an experience.”
Camp’s poems appear in numerous journals including New England Review, Poetry
International, Slice, Linebreak and Beloit Poetry Journal. Some of her poems have been
translated into Turkish, Mandarin and Spanish.
She is the recipient of the Dorset Prize, the 2014 RL International Poetry Award, an Anna
Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship.
A long time radio producer, she produces and hosts “Audio Saucepan”—a global music program
interwoven with contemporary poetry—on Santa Fe Public Radio. www.laurencamp.com.