(after Alberto Blanco)
I turned away from the paper
spread open on the table
and moved into the world
spreading out in all directions.
At the bottom of the stairs
I checked my pocket
for keys—then I was down
in that web of streets
the map attempted to explain,
I was moving
through the narrow tubes
of the map, passing
shops and parks and fountains.
I was beyond the map
and simultaneously inside it.
When I arrived at the sea
it was a boundary marked
inside the map. I would walk
along that edge until the city
opened itself again. Kind Ramón—
for twelve days alone
in your unfamiliar country,
I never left the map.
In our theories of psychology, violence, and power,
we find the entire world,
he said. Here we can see our parents
failing. We can just
barely glimpse the war. We’ll read the book
on sleep training; then
we’ll watch the kids, briefly asleep. Let’s observe
the various shades of economic systems
crashing against each other. Or else
a distant boat lit up like a house,
its cells lifted by the machinery of nature—
which Darwin found
is best summarized by a wasp
parasitizing a caterpillar. The future
fills book after book; we
are never mentioned. Sometimes I can feel
the slim islands of letters—which once
were just black sloshing in a canister—
lifting faintly against my finger.
Wayne Miller‘s fourth poetry collection, Post- (Milkweed, 2016) won the Rilke Prize and the Colorado Book Award. His translation of Moikom Zeqo’s Zodiac (Zephyr, 2015) was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in Translation. His most recent co-edited book is Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century (Milkweed, 2016). He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver and edits Copper Nickel.