Algae Farm
Lauren Camp



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.

Liquid sweet and soft and almost too much


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, 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.