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.