A Span of Haven

Poetry / Lauren Camp

:: A Span of Haven ::

What minutes, minutes slide and spread
into the solid blue. What miracle of night,
and morning, mourn with me whatever vow,
now whatever loss then loops or steps, because I loved 
what heart and what we hold the longest. Everything 
has been and gone, gone on
what back we rose today beneath the mind what hour 
when the call the knock and so forth what we said. What mind 
she has, or if she leaves, what if we’re running 
out of days, what leg what arm to turn or lift,
and rings and rings within the rim 
of dust damn life what gash what bruise
and breathing. This capsuled world but this is what 
is held and slipping from what yet ourselves 
and love and what we’re saying. Here there is everything: and tears, 
what cords, and who has said goodbye, what retinue
and schedule slopped on several papers, who sees and knows
the open doors, old wounds and fans, and folds
of sheet, what blue, and blue again, what measure on hour 
of water, what messages and what exceeds 
within repose are flecks of snore-wound words, what picture 
perfect strew of sky laid long above her, what fingers do 
when aching. What is forgotten is still around. Gather, tuck 
and sit, then quick and hearken when she moans, we never look 
for need, know only from the touching. As end reminds, 
our voice is nice within the hem of sleep within 
syringe, as distant mooring.

From the writer

:: Account ::

This poem is about the vulnerability and generosity that darkness offers. I wrote “A Span of Haven” as someone close to me was dying in the other room. I wrote between morphine doses and oxygen tank rearranging, as the Hospice nurse came and went, as sadness flared and calmed. I wrote while she slept and while other family members sat with her.

I always read many things at once, but around that time, I was deeply moved by Philip Levine’s “They Feed They Lion” and awed by the audible sound power of the poem. Crafting syntax is one way I work to create something true. By placing, shaping, and shifting sounds and phrases, I begin to balance friction and calm. This allows me to mimic what I am experiencing.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve written when things are rough. When everything is joyful, I’m too busy to capture it. I’m not interested then. I begin a poem when there is something to understand, when what I am feeling is not explicitly available to me. If I am filled with a sense of walking through darkness, by writing, I begin to render some light.


Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), which won the Dorset Prize. Her poems appear in New England Review, Poetry International, World Literature Today, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, an Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship. She is the producer and host of Santa Fe Public Radio’s “Audio Saucepan,” which entwines music with contemporary poetry. www.laurencamp.com.