Man and Camel
On the eve of my fortieth birthday I sat on the porch having a smoke when out of the blue a man and a camel happened by. Neither uttered a sound at first, but as they drifted up the street and out of town the two of them began to sing. Yet what they sang is still a mystery to me— the words were indistinct and the tune too ornamental to recall. Into the desert they went and as they went their voices rose as one above the sifting sound of windblown sand. The wonder of their singing, its elusive blend of man and camel, seemed an ideal image for all uncommon couples. Was this the night that I had waited for so long? I wanted to believe it was, but just as they were vanishing, the man and camel ceased to sing, and galloped back to town. They stood before my porch, staring up at me with beady eyes, and said: "You ruined it. You ruined it forever."
Excerpted from Man and Camel by Mark Strand Copyright © 2006 by Mark Strand. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Mark Strand was awarded the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 1979 and the Wallace Stevens Award in 2004. He served on Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors from 1995 to 2000.
Date Published: 2006-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/man-and-camel