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Poetry Month: MAP

this begins ⁣⁣

with me ⁣⁣

finding your pupils ⁣⁣

dilating in the moonlight⁣⁣

my hands leave your ⁣⁣

hair and rest on your cheeks⁣⁣;

a few fingertips south⁣⁣

your tongue meets my teeth⁣⁣


i, cross⁣⁣

cross cardinal directions⁣⁣,

commit cardinal sins,⁣⁣

put my palms ⁣⁣

on your chest ⁣⁣

unbutton your shirt to ⁣⁣

cradle your heart ⁣,

find it tearing across ⁣⁣



you, carve a latitude ⁣

down my back and ⁣⁣

move me closer ⁣⁣

to your guts ⁣,

graze your fingertips ⁣⁣

against my thigh and ⁣⁣

ink your name on my ⁣⁣

neck ⁣⁣


we, devour each other's⁣⁣

topography and imprint ⁣⁣

coordinates on our skin⁣⁣,


no cartographer can ⁣⁣

comprehend this ⁣⁣

map because we ⁣⁣

created the legend in disarray⁣⁣,

the compass breaks ⁣⁣

with magnetic force,

and we fall asleep ⁣⁣

amidst constellations.


When I was young,

The atlas was a book of mystery.

My little brain could never fathom

How cartographers fit the world

Into a neat two-page spread.

Instead, I tore the pages gleefully,

Turning the blues and greens

Into delicate paper boats,

Waiting for a rainy day,

To make its voyage.

Maps make me anxious these days,

A reminder of loss, measured to scale,

Of disappearing mangroves and broken bridges,

Of imaginary borders that split the world

Into too many shattered pieces.


Every cartographer

splits open the giant

sphere of our planet, 

and spreads it down

flat, tracing out the 

horizon and naming

the oceans, and yet

every map is distorted.

In my poems I try to

to map my memories;

tracing out the horizon

and naming the oceans.

I know that there are

distortions, but all the

maps are true.


When a middle aged uncle I shared the elevator with, stares at me for the entire ride, a map retraces through my mind to look for reasons– a woman, my hijab, the misogynist’s entitlement to sadistic pleasures– before I allow myself to feel anything.

When a friend tells me about this new thing in their life, I instantly extend their map to include this exciting new skill they’ve developed or to their dreamy love interest from the past or to what triggers their anxiety.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 am or pm, every detail, new and old keeps revisiting the maps inside my head, until I’m asleep, and then a little more. That is how it works, like a cartographer, marking people and places and instances as they’re discovered, loved, left in a chronological order with a recall priority to the one that hurt the most; it’s a masochist, my brain.

And an obsessive. You could be just the person I waited behind in the 5 feet apart grocery store line, and you’d still have a map of your own in my mind because all that while, when you’d think my brain would stay still, it was wondering whether the smell of the coconut oil coming from you meant a dedicated old mother or a tiring child in their teens. My brain, it has slippery boundaries when it comes to letting strangers in.

Except today. Today it went numb for it didn’t know where to map the loss of someone I have never even met. So, my heart, pretending that it knew him too well, took over instead, and wrapped all its unfathomable feelings in a prayer for Maqbool. Just in time, because

“Sometimes we forget things if we have nobody to tell them to.”


As I sit with the with word of the day

Turning it over in my hands – map

All I remember are the large sheets of paper that

we had to colour in school with the countries in the world

knowing about the topography of lands unknown

longitude and latitude

all resulted in marks

I wasn’t bitten by wanderlust

so the places on the map

were just words to me

Romania, Poland, Italy, Spain, England

I did always wonder about the people who stayed on

these coloured blots on my examination sheet

I wondered what the people would be like

what would their lives look like

did they have parks or perhaps fountains

mountains, rivers, lakes or streams

which trees lined their streets, which animals

were called that land home

what kind of food did they eat?

there isn’t much need to wonder now

our landscape and topography is the same

there are no mighty mountains and deep rivers

our maps feature rooms, bathrooms, studys, kitchens,

beds, sofas, desks, balconies, windows

aloevera plants

and closed doors.


1 коментар

sob adiet
sob adiet
14 трав.

The Bahamas were paradise to me when I was twelve years old. Fifteen years after that trip, I'm preparing to visit my fifty-first nation. I couldn't stop pestering my parents for further trips after that. the contributor's name is Katie Lockhart dordle

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