Self-Portrait with Ripe Tomato

I see myself as what I avoid. A dumb hallway of attention,
a needle lifts small dots
on my arm, the slender metal clings an extra second, coursing

serum. These days, my body wears everything
that hangs around me.

When the point is removed, I leer
the itch. Hitch to
stop maneuvers. The dutiful nurses act in unison:

one watches the horse of my eyes, one
promises the lack
will better fill me. All this tending. I sign on

for years of decanting
my overdone qualities. Eat figs and toast and feel hollow.

Every few days a stable drip. Even so,
each hour is made of harm, my body busy

with nothing and exhausting
victory. I think of before the rebellion, the goodness
of juniper, fescue and thistle, the untidy

breeze. I moved through uncaused.

Now the tincture of habitat is tiny
bloodstains and holes. Insert again the margin. Because I can no longer

eat my whims and instances, yolk and seeds
and red in the skillet, I knife and fork what’s left and still suffer
the sluggish, ears again wet.

Why did ease end? Sitting in this low-slung room, in tiny clicks
of minutes, appointed
to another threat—albumen, acid, wild grasses—

my body swells its statement.
No more gorging
on the obvious.

Hardly any good to go on about.

Lauren Camp is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Turquoise Door. Her third book, One Hundred Hungers, won the Dorset Prize and was a finalist for the Arab American Book Award and the Housatonic Book Award. Lauren’s poems have appeared in Poet Lore, The Los Angeles Review, Slice, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere.

Appears In

Issue 7

Browse Issues