Part Fear, Part Mourning, Part Wild Melody


Beloved woman, beautiful and scared,
My restless runner, self-fulfilled and thin,
I know despite how many I’ve prepared
I’m running out of ways to call you in

From streets that echo with your footfalls’ ache
And settle into darkness so profound
On moonless nights that someone might mistake
A pitfalled footpath for the safer ground.

What will I do when my invention fails
And I, at last, must lean against the jamb
And picture you pursuing root-torn trails
That carry you too far from where I am

For you to catch my voice, its complex note
Part fear, part mourning, part wild melody,
Or hear the question catching in my throat:
Why do you love your loneliness more than me?

Stephen Kampa is the author of Cracks in the Invisible (Ohio University Press, 2011) and Bachelor Pad (Waywiser Press, 2014). His writing has been awarded the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, the Florida Book Awards gold medal in poetry, the Theodore Roethke Prize, and four Pushcart nominations. His harmonica work can be heard most recently on Victor Wainwright’s album Boom Town (Blind Pig, 2015).

First published in Measure, Volume 11, Issue 1 (2016)