Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Write Map Illumine Draw

“I don’t do poetry."

My heart sinks—full stop, before sputtering to life again. “It doesn’t matter," I say. "We can still make beautiful maps together."

Our poetry will be found in continents and cities,
and the spaces that exist between them.
Our metaphors are the lines, colors, contours that make up
geographical stanzas stamped onto the surface of the Earth,
that floating blue marble, planetary marvel,
where our species exists unlike anyplace else.

We will make ourselves fluent in
the language of navigators and map-makers,
speak in chloropleth dialects
and cartographic accents,
Robinson—not Mercator!
Cylindrical or Winkel tripel?

We’ll learn to run through high latitudes,
draw circular lines, chart raw aptitude.
Mark out the meridian: “Le Meridien”
the meeting place for lovers,
as we paint the geospatial reality of
plots, projections, parallels,
lyrics, lore, laws, and land use,
newfound stories, ancient songs,
dynamics, demography (destiny?)

When we draw out an elegant curve,
or make sense of jumbled pieces;
when we assemble our own jigsaw puzzle
from fragmented clues strung around the globe in
24 separate time zones;
when we count capitals of countries bounded by
snaking frontiers and jagged partitions;
when we see environmental furies and human agglomerations
cross all conventional borders, transgress artificial, man-made dimensions;
when we apprehend that
degrees-minutes-seconds mean distance,
as well as time;
when we inscribe the world with meaning—

then paper becomes cartography,
our orthography,

You’ll speak to me the way I speak to you—
dancing across the pages of an atlas,
tossing the starlight quill into the wind,
pouring cool, blue ink into the glass-flowing river, 
tracing the distance from Seattle to San Francisco to Skopje to Shanghai
and end up home.

On the shores of a floating island, que ilha tao formosa,
verdant beauty encircles me, my embrace the sky that envelopes you. 

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