Alexandra van de Kamp

Lost Earring

A poet once told me that he wrote a poem simply
to write a poem—no other premise was required.
I found that freeing. Another poet recently explained
he had decided to study one word for a whole year.
This poet had chosen the word and. “How boring,”
I thought until I paused to assess how much an and
can connect: a carrot to a blushing radish: a melodramatic
sadness to a scissor-sharp glee. Even a diamond-studded
bride could be leashed tenuously to a cracked syringe
glittering in a parking lot by applying this one-
syllable conjunction. That’s when I realized and
was one of the primary colors in the language,
like one of Rothko’s blues receding further and further
into his canvas—an unstoppable hallway of blue,
an unraveling cobalt bandage. Each day constructed
from a series of ands, a chain-link fence of small mouths
opening: the lost earring shaped like a black tear
my husband gave me, and the wedding I wish
I had attended in northern Spain in my thirties,
with the region’s most famous cheese shaped
like a woman’s breast, and the trees so dense
they emitted a chartreuse fog in the evenings.

Alexandra van de Kamp is the author of The Park of Upside-Down Chairs (CW Books, 2010). Her chapbook, Dear Jean Seberg (2011), won the 2010 Burnside Review Chapbook Contest. A new chapbook, A Liquid Bird inside the Night, is forthcoming from Red Glass Books.