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The Logic of Degrees by Lauren Camp

That sun-bruised earth? The landscape is still

in my sweat. Slow pollen, no clouds. We went past bricks and locks

to a web of painted heat. We chose it.

As if that climate of vines

with its minimum perfection of wasted day could undo the clockwork

of life. It’s been a while or the whole heap of time.

Logs balanced on trees. Easy sinking, soft earth.

People spoke singing consonants.

The whole place was in supple collapse,

scrawled with its salt-thick ragged wreck

of volition. Far from the surf, we hung around

in multiple versions of glare. Around us piles of tires: extinct

vehemence. The crimson-lipped light kept us

from moving so we lolled in the white swing,

legs drawn to the ledge, tolerating the labor

of pause. God it was good

to unletter the earth, though then I thought of such inaction

as boredom, aware as I was of the emptying

calendar of days. I didn’t desire

indolence. The landscape seeped on,

and our skin held it. Why bother to remember?

We left, hurtled to the plane. Through an arch, a tunnel, that eager

perpetual course. What we’ve done since then—

what is it? a sadness? a seam? I think how joyous

it was when the moon resolved

to bless the street. It mattered a lot, that cool chance

after the prolonged day flanked to its knees, defending its heat.


Lauren Camp is the Poet Laureate of New Mexico. Honors include a Dorset Prize and a finalist citation for the Arab American Book Award. She was Astronomer in Residence at Grand Canyon National Park in 2022. Her work has been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic.­


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