The Quotable

Far Away

The bed is an ocean
and her mouth edged with white spit,
silver sliding from her scalp.
The bed is a bleak winter day;
a day is a hole, is only a bed.
A TV speaks to her in tongues
and she replies, each hour sinking
three feet down into her childhood.
She offers the tender smile
of one who doesn’t know
what a smile is,
what you use it for. Her large brown eyes
anchor to the great bridge of emptiness;
she is safe in her own harbor.
I can read her pain from the winces;
she rocks in rhythm to them,
becomes the nightclothes engulfed by beasts. I hear
the cancer chewing on her brain, consuming
her, the tumor on her hip
growing beneath the blanket.
She stirs, and I rub the bones along her back.
She is alone whether I am here or not,
sailing with morphine’s wizened dullness;
she’s swimming off to find the moon,
the one real light. That’s me by the bed,
in the mud at the edge,
and my mother floating and welling over waves,
bright as a water lily
on the surface of a new world.


Lauren Camp is the author of This Business of Wisdom (West End Press) and editor of the poetry blog, Which Silk Shirt. Co-Winner of The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2012, her poems have recently appeared in J Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal and Linebreak. She has also guest edited special sections for World Literature Today (on international jazz poetry). She will be the featured poet in the spring 2013 issue of Malpaís Review. On Sundays, she hosts “Audio Saucepan,” a global music/poetry program on Santa Fe Public Radio. Online at

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The Quotable 9 Night and Day