Lauren K. Carlson

Summer Solstice in Lac Qui Parle

Now, at sunset, the children’s 
faces part the light
and take on darkened

            cloaks, so for a moment, though
prairie wind animates brush
and crests its grasses, while tractors

            roar through the fields, causing dust
to hover holy ghost like
over the surface of the shivering deep

            loam as controlled burns
singe the invading sunflower edge-weeds
and we protect our cultivated soy crop,

            everything is foreshadowed
with reflexive clarity.  The old ground
will crumble under cull and engine.

            Rise and make a cloudless red
stinging sky. What would it mean to unimagine, 
unimagine, no, not being, but desire;

to unimagine desire.
Conduit to dissatisfaction,
            my life is what else.

Making a Way Around the Castle

Composure, first tell
me what it is. For example

fire. Warmth is what I
love. Fire’s comfort

is undeniable and you’ll
grant anyone that.

You tell me
other people are warm

and I have some
unnamable characteristic.

It whispers come here
in your ear.

Comfort, I remind you,
is distinct from pleasure is 

And so what if all the indoor

plants are wilting sad 
brown leaves on the floor

and neither of us cleans baseboards?
The dust isn’t something else,

it’s you and me, skin sloughing off.
Our barriers: leftover light catcher,

external mote—

The Photograph Holds in Contrast

night tree rough bark soft light feathery and welcoming
and then we were walking the deer was not
one leg missing or was one leg hurt and held higher than the rest
I couldn’t tell
or could tell then
but can’t tell you now
            the point

the gait was uneasy
had an uneasy gait
I, an uneasy gate next to you
meadow across from which was the cemetery
graves in Swedish
lilacs extending delicate fingers
could I photograph this shadow foolish thought but
            the shadow followed

you were a runner once you said
high elevation made your lungs strong
Roger Bannister broke the impossible
            but I was that three-legged

deer how appropriate
I have some fairly extraordinary attributes
for instance once got Eileen Fisher pants for twenty-five-cents believe it or not
I won’t say if you won’t best pair where the streetlight keeps going off
and on for some reason
            cicadas dropping like stars dropping like stars is what I would say but stars don’t drop
            they shoot

who hasn’t seen them in the forest
or some remote lakeshore but I mean falling
really shooting like the plague whizzing
like hail like sudden midsummer thunderstorm
rattling wings getting stuck in my hair what I mean is
            man photographs take me back

I’m desperate for attention and worse than your worst enemy
I mean ordinary monotonous boring amusement
promise hope to die cross the dock the blue fish bit
did you catch one how fitting
            the snagged hook in the belly at the end of the line

Lauren K. Carlson

Lauren K. Carlson lives in northern lower Michigan and is the author of the chapbook Animals I Have Killed. A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, you can find more of her work in Fatal Flaw Literary Magazine, Amethyst Review, Salamander Mag, and Pleiades: Literature in Context (among others). For more see