Lauren Camp



Whether or not I couldn't stop looking. Have you seen                
how a dried bud moves in invisible wind,
or the pliant and clasping, a beginning
of sunlight, the milk and honey
of sand drifts, the constellation of conscious
and unconscious anticipations, plants
and days? I would learn later it was everything
as usual. Distance until distance collapsed
on a downside of land. Wrung from ocean, the ground
confessed its veer and rock, escaping to the curve
and bird's eye of saltwater marsh and moss-
stained birches touching what they needed—and where
my feet went, roads laid a future. Every turn
stayed the dark. I walked inside all
the angles. Point to point along
bounty. A skein of geese. I looked in
neglected places. What a sweet lot
of deposit. In town, the first day, I didn't know
what to study: nature or boundary. How the ocean
galloped, how it made
and unmade, or the hawk winging
its misfortune. I heard shrub pods resist
and open, brutish, choosing to feast
on a field. The grass was also a voice
beside the repeatable eye of water as it gloried its cull
and renewal, cull and infinite merit,
entrance, attachment. Not everyone believes
in devotion. Not everyone sees the heaven
in things. Spiders reappear, building webs,
and someone tramples them, distributes
the dust. The sun moves without sound, entrusting
the sky a few brilliant stories or its whole bowl
of bright liquid. I want from life only the beginning
of the familiar. The gift and the burden.




I just gradually learned to stop thinking. It doesn't help to try to shut it off forcefully. —Agnes Martin

How often she spoke for her work of long silence with a wide gaze. How little she gave with her hermetic and constant impossible answers. Her parables and lines and this was a revolution, a nest in the clouds. Where I'm not, there will be vigils today. Yesterday, someone nearly fell. Someone fell. Someone stopped wearing hijab. Someone found emblems. Someone rages. Another city claims another person who needs another question. My family believes I'm overly sensitive. This is the fault of the imagination. Someone finds names to erase or to prove. Before this peninsula, I was constantly fatigued. It is morning, it is afternoon. I am sinking to worship the slipping of water. The hawks overhead. A vigil is not like the march that took place over the winter: the group moved with its variables and songs like a jagged vein, and moved in its lode calm to the courthouse which remained round and steady in the center of town. This estuary is built on an exact arrangement of roads. My husband sends a love note each morning and today's said he was blue. My friend says her father's gait is off; he cannot get up from his bed. The country keeps straying and I'm in the wet and dry weeds, watching the water carry on, extending its dialogue two ways with land. Sometimes, space here is inward, omitting all light. Last night the composer who is also staying here said he'd learned in the small local church about the annual regatta. There were always boats on the river in Boston. That city for me was a long house and a radius. Every view of the river proved it could be there, placid or angry or loose. It was easy to be a stranger, to be made of the streets, to be lush every evening with satisfactory attractions. In my other cities it was easy to be a stranger. To make a name and a flower of life. I have been so long in this room, reading the articles and interviews with Agnes and don't know who she was. Many people turned out for the march and I believe they'll be there today for the vigil and for the next lacerating discontent. There is an efficiency to a line, which builds a network right or left, which promises and remembers again and has the chance to repeat. Agnes' blue is simple and watery with great potential. Agnes' line is not exact, and not weak. You might see nothing, but it is a source. Considered. Reporting opinions. Significant. It is level.







In August 2017, I began a book-length mediation on the work of abstract painter Agnes Martin. I was living beside the Pacific Ocean for a month, and was immersed in the multiplicity of less, the elusion and shifting perspective of narrative. The pace of contemporary life and the shocking U.S. political stage had pushed me to revisit her quiet art, and to consider the faults and joys of exuberance and desire. In all, it amounted to a desperate need for tranquility and a narrowing perspective of ritual and intimacy. Agnes kept me company that month, proving generosity of patience and compassion of space, and what I learned continues to radiate.