Original PoetryEmail This Article Print This Article

Delay in white corn

Camille Ralphs


Delay in white corn

by later     shored     untilled on tool-scored hills
flecked thousandly w/ hacked stalks    open waves
of scrambled sod     one uncut corn tract mills
& grinds itself    pale on the eye    engraves
these lines    while    yes    somewhere a people die
some fault    lies everywhere    lies    welted west
as heat draws back    its belt    i shout to you
in pyrite-sparkling light     dream    i am blessed
to dream you     to demand of stout supply
despite the state     of things     the grasping    why
to miss you    knowing you    don’t miss you too

this time     i glean     each plant ticked off its crows
onto the breeze    the fragile breath of stars
as grievous teeth     cleft     flashing thru the rows
but left some     whispering between their bars
i stand     up arm-to-paper arm     w/ these cool tall
remainders     stand up     to the clocks
& watch vague sun    roll on      & off     its shelf
& can’t     but think of you     the billion knocks
life took     for us    to kiss across the table
epochs dealt     high time    or not much time at all
to discover       that matter can love itself

here     on the plucked shambolic fields     this stripe
of mottled dead maize sways     but you     alone
of blanching chaff     cropped sceptres     overripe
& voided     of their yellow gems     re-sown
despite that     everything is coming clean
come into view     across the tableau     thru
the hedged bets of this spoiling earth     & sea
yet     shaking earnestly     i must miss you
miss taproot moon     miss rapture    it has been
even in plucked shambolic reaches     seen
some meaning’s left    in what you mean    to me


Camille Ralphs is the current president of Oxford University Poetry Society. In 2016 she won the Lord Alfred Douglas Memorial Prize for poetry, and her debut poetry pamphlet, Malkin (The Emma Press, 2015), was shortlisted for both the Michael Marks Poetry Award and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet.