Megan Snyder-Camp



The beforelife went on forever, trees gentled
from their roost, pebbles gathered.  An anyplace.

Carved into the upstairs desk a child’s Japanese,
the names of animals, their charge—long ago

my brother was a moose, a frog, a chair.
His library job kept us neat.

No, the stacks turned his heart sure, foreign.
Our mother read in the dark,

smoothing the stammered fur of the story.
How song is built to split you, verse

you, until you long for thread, sky:
song a moving sidewalk, labyrinth

of landmark, night and the lit animal magnets.
The carved bulk—the relief—of each metered face.



What she took
came back to us holy
garbled and buoyant in orange yarn.

                                    (how on the 40th week

As barnacles roof a boat.

                                    they searched the dark screen

As a spider offers what had once sprung,
hulled of its count.
Skeins of her yarn
bundled a lipstick knee-high,
a can of soup, a leaf, a toy boat.

                                    your whale-heart far offshore

In darkness we lifted
each bright mass: not those exactly
or possibly those.

                                    and so stood over me)

She waited
until whatever we’d searched for
was only the stone of a fruit.



Inside me the forest stood untouched, a penny weight
to the motor’s gaze. That year
I took my days as bodies.

Other days the years turned to ballast.
They gave us sad ones snow.
The year fever took us apart—
a small cabin on a great hill, those few days
of heavy-bodied cranes darkening the sky—grew

on its own far stem. The quiet I wanted
was not enough to fill a day, or a body.
Mother beneath an egg-blue ceiling,
ligaments of the sycamore

on which nothing ever landed,
not even the paper that sometimes flew by.
When in June leaves sprang out, it was clear
they’d been stitched there.




- - - - - -

Megan Snyder-Camp's first collection of poems, The Forest of Sure Things, won the Tupelo Press/Crazyhorse First Book Award. Other poems of hers have appeared in The Antioch Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, FIELD, 88, and elsewhere. Her current project, an extended haibun concerned with her experience retracing Lewis & Clark's arrival at the Pacific, won a 2010 4Culture Individual Artist grant. She lives in Seattle with her family.




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