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Camping Out


ISSUE:  Spring 1983
It is midnight
when we open the tent.
The babysitter
(herself so young in her sleep),
the small boy next to her.
Never was time so still.

For a while I do not move.
Innocence, the horizon of this life,
is silent.
Whatever its meaning
birth
is aching in this peace.

I tiptoe over to the girl asleep in the
flash of light from my hands. She is playing
a game on her knees in her mind. Stones are lined up
before her. On each stone is a painted face.
She can touch the mouths with her fingertips
but she doesn’t yet. The colors keep changing.
This contents her for the time. She is the
black coal in Isaiah’s vision. She can make them
pure again.

On the other side the small boy is counting out
moons. Knocking on the doors of the houses, the people
inside bring out the moon. Then he smiles.
This moment, he is the middle of the night,
defined by it, the rise in the air growing fainter
till the morning can’t wait anymore.

What can I do?
I whisper to myself.
This pure light.
A grown man
and a woman
must answer for it.
These are the prints
of their hands
and feet
and soul.

God, it is night
and they sleep
on the ground.

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