Creative Nonfiction: Clarity

by Lauren Camp

Either we’re standing in disordered light before the disappointment, or it’s after, the night bluing and we can’t see our hollow habits. Surrounded by warnings, we watch the leaves in the ditch, sun cascading through the eye of a speckled sky. In the absolute, every moment can go wrong. One of us has wings; one looks east at pieces of a city as the air exerts a long wave of wheat. Something about the unspannable relaxes us. You laugh, and I hear it in my chest. Our pauses are rarer now, and sometimes we forget to reach for them. Your hair is blowing, curling. We are cold in a backyard stained green from last year’s harvest.

To crawl into night takes courage at a frequency we cannot see. Our shadows stretch up walls, so we linger, then move across a leach field to a sharp edge where the moon settled. It isn’t far, a few cattle guards. The view becomes clear, but also flat. Why can’t it be like this all the time, the full earth drawn in transparent layers? We could start to believe in ghosts out here. When we lose our way, we agree to swallow the thorny frost. You notice every detail of dirt, the mournful edges of a grave and next to that a grave. I see black dots on our white pictures as we enter the blush of trees. And now—a wet spring, a pond, a tangled tent. Raspberries already plump. Red rising in our mouths.

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 appeared in J Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, Linebreak, and you are here. She has also guest edited special sections for World Literature Today (on international jazz poetry) and for Malpaís Review (on the poetry of Iraq). On Sundays, she hosts “Audio Saucepan,” a global music/poetry program on Santa Fe Public Radio.

“Clarity” is creative nonfiction. What would you like to tell us about what had to be left out of the story for the sake of, well, clarity?

Clarity began as a piece about harvest, but expanded to haunting memories and defiance, the desert, dissatisfaction and the caress of attention. Arggh, how to fit all that in without overflowing into every possible tangent and back-story? I left out a great deal, while somehow intending to acknowledge it all. In doing so, I was creating a new way of describing passing time. Surreal statements began to come forward; these made connections (or leaps) I couldn’t have planned, but adored.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

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Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now closed. The reading period for standard submissions opens again March 15, 2023. Submit here.


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