In the valley, behind long roads to the farms,
three men check a vast tank
using wits of borrowed scientists.
No plow or field. Just tender uni-cellular seaweed.
In the lot, a truck turned round under the range
of pine boughs and laconic mountains holds out
its bed of perfumed West Slope peaches.
weeping richness. The men inside explain
the total need is an acre foot of dead water
constantly renewed for a kingdom
of edible algae. In a glass jar on the table,
a sour green-lustered sample. A swamp in a bottle.
One man in slacks gestures by shaking the liquid
repeatedly. One thousand bugs he says.
He swirls them awhile and smiles.
The ranch runs parallel to a patchwork of lavender
and barbed wire that latches back dangers.
Under the tent, beside crumpled hills,
I listen to how they’ll disgorge
moisture to dry powder, start the tank again.
The man in tan cap nearly chortles
with loot calculations. The tank glows humid.
I step outside, decide to buy another peach.
Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), which won the Dorset Prize. Her poems have appeared in Terrain.org, Slice, The Seattle Review, Clade Song, Beloit Poetry Journal and elsewhere. Lauren is a Black Earth Institute Fellow and the producer/host of Santa Fe Public Radio’s “Audio Saucepan,” which interweaves music with contemporary poetry. www.laurencamp.com.