Winter 2004

Rafael Campo


Rafael Campo Rafael Campo teaches and practices medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. His latest book of poetry is Landscape with Human Figure (Duke University Press, 2002); W.W. Norton recently released The Healing Art: A Doctor's Black Bag of Poetry, essays on poetry and medicine. Other new work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The Boston Review, The Georgia Review, The Progressive, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.
Song in the Off Season    

Last boats grow lonely in the harbor.
The clanging buoys mark their shoals,
as if the sea were time, its danger, hours.
The restaurants are shuttered closed.

October: doddering leaves tell
the same old stories to the wind.
The secret reasons for their fall
remain unsaid, to our chagrin.

Off season, those who still remain
look hungry, like they want to know.
The older couple, gripped in pain;
the stray white cat, portent of snow.

You're here with me, near the world's end.
A cup of tea pretends to dream;
we read. It's good to be back in.
Let the night revise, the lamp gleam:

We're sure of insecurity.
Floors creak, from no one's weight but home's.
My love, you asked what we should be.
It's not enough, what we've become?




The Sodomite's Lament    

Why was he punished?  Hell if I know. Yes,
we were lovers, as if in Sodom this

were something anyone would be ashamed
of! Lot, poor pious Lot—I say his name

and still I hate him for his cowardice.
He promised me his love, a paradise

of morning birdsong, safe from common thieves,
a place beyond this desert's stifling grief.

I'm fortunate I left him when I did:
They say it was God's wrath, that he destroyed

the cities for their pride and sinfulness.
I say it was something else, selfishness

maybe, this God incapable of love
himself. Heard what he did to Lot's shamed wife?

He never said her name to me, but salt
enriches tears so all may taste her faults,

blown into our eyes by the searing wind.
Dumb woman, to think she was different—

we keep nothing in this world, not the trees,
not love, not even our own memories.




Rafael Campo: Poetry
Copyright © 2004 The Cortland Review Issue 25The Cortland Review