Posts Tagged ‘map’

for Mabeth

I assumed at its root, it was speaking of time,
related to tempo and temporary,
assumed it was speaking also of place,
as in plateau and plat and platform.
In fact, I had quite convinced myself
the word contemplative was an invitation
to be one with place and time.
I was wrong. It’s related to temple,
which comes from a root for “to cut,”
as in a place cut off or reserved
to be occupied by the divine.
Of course, the divine’s at the center
instead of time.
Oh, this desire to make meaning—
this longing to find the story
that will help me make sense of the world.
The mind will use any trick it can
to think it has a handhold in the mystery.
Meanwhile it leads me astray.
It’s like discovering the map I’ve been using
is the wrong map for the city I’m in.
And now that I have the right map,
one with a temple at the heart of it,
I can begin again.

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One Invitation

the new map
life gave me—
a blank page

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Advice to Self: Get Lost

To move forward, move forward.

But first, get lost.

Really lost. If you have a map,

burn it. Not that there’s

anything wrong with a map.

But you must recalibrate

the one using it. Let her not know

where she is. And if she does know,

perhaps through rote,

perhaps through muscle memory,

then spin her around

with a blindfold on,

the way kids do when pinning

a paper tail on a donkey.

Spin her until she has no idea

which direction to walk with that tail.

Spin her until she falls.

And then let her do as St. Francis taught—

let step in whatever direction

her head is pointing.

Let her trust that any direction she steps

can be the right way forward,

every path can be a path toward love.

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Tonight is a torn map

and the woman

is a would-be voyager.

Once, she believed

there was a path.

Now, she believes

there are many.

Sitting still

beside the river,

she notices

the urge to rise,

notices when

the urge has passed.

Notices it rise again.

Being still

is one of the hardest

paths of all.

All around her

the world is moving—

gurgling, waving,

weaving, crawling,

climbing, winging, falling,

eroding. And in her,

more movement

than she dares to admit—

not just mudslides,

tectonic shifts—

every day the landscapes

change. Every day

the inner map she drew

looks less like what’s

really there.

It was no mistake

when it ripped.

Find this poem published in the amazing ONE ART POETRY

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That Song

I want to slip into the song

you sang, the one with verse

about loss. I want to hang

on its notes as if they were branches

I could swing from, want to climb

through its chorus, want to meet it

in its rests, want to offer it tea.

I want to ask the guitar

about your fingers, about

how they knew where

to find the melody. And how?

I want to speak with the loss itself,

want to ask it if it’s sure its lost,

want to offer it a map made of apples

and wings and moon.

I want to hear the silence after

the song, and then beg it, beg it,

to keep singing.

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The Vendor



And if there were a map

for the path of my own becoming,

I wouldn’t buy it.

I tried. I marched up to the vendor

of maps, took out my coin,

and held it out for the exchange,

but was startled by an inner revolt—

not an angry crowd but a quiet, insistent no.

I put the coin back in my pocket

and walked away, wildly aware

I had no idea what step came next.

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Said the Traveler




throwing it away,

that old map toward happiness,

choosing instead

to let my feet wander

whichever way they wander,

each step

an invitation

to arrive


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She Said

There it is again, the desire
to be somewhere but here,

the hope to find the self in a different room
with a different face and a different

spine, a different once upon. But we
are always ourselves. And it’s never

gotten us there before, this brittle map
to Elsewhere with its thousands of folds,

its distorted compass rose.
Nope. It’s never taken us even an inch

away from wherever we are. Always here.
Though we squint, or heck, even change

the narrator to second person, no matter:
the room you are in is the room you are in,

and it is still your face you see in the mirror
whether you want to recognize it or not.

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With a Forever Stamp

Here, my dear, is the map
to my heart. I have put a big
red x in the center of the paper,
but it’s faded now to soft pink.
There are creases so old, so thin
that the names of the landmarks
can no longer be read. But here
is the old barn with the ladders
stacked against the metal roof.
And here’s the river bank
where many afternoons we stood.
And here the fields of columbine,
and here the song of canyon wren.
I’ll fold it and send it again to you,
though I fear in a week it will come
back to me, again, Return to Sender,
unopened, the seal and all
its kisses still intact.

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When you stand on the ledge
six stories above the street,

you are perhaps lost, but
there is not a lot a map can tell you.

There is back in the window,
and there is down.

What is it that keeps you
from jumping.

You wouldn’t even need to jump.
Just trip. Lean. Step. Or if you sneeze,

it could be considered an accident.
Somehow easier that way to imagine it,

but how to explain the fact that you
climbed through the pane

out onto the railingless edge.
Someone would have to clean up

the splatter. That thought
is enough to hold you here,

back against the brick.
It’s not that you want to die.

Below, the cars crisscross and merge.
But how to go on living.

Beneath you the ravens weave.

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