EVERY MAP IS AN ISLAND

(after Alberto Blanco)

 

1

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.

 

2

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.

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