When I Was Young

I thought north was always before me.
Any direction I turned, there
it would be. This misconception is the
likely birthplace
of my yearning. I grew up
with fields circling me, house and barn strewn
haphazard upon acres. The only center
that held
was my own.

I read maps like I read books.
The sun set left
and rose right, but when
cresting the sky, bright
as a hole to heaven, I had no choice
but to stand
still, hands domed, guarding
my eyes from expanse,
not eclipse.

I grew up disoriented
by the carpet of bright dandelions that
lit our lawn, littered pinholes spilling lava.
The sun-scalded circles
of pale, parched grasses,
alien architecture.
The snow like sand dunes in
white winter waves.

I was led
nowhere by the north
star, that sure promise of orientation,
as it beckoned, blinking. Unable
to find my way home,
lost so long with longing,
I found I had
eaten all the breadcrumbs.


Not Much Older Still

That morning,
words were the only map we had. All
our points pin-plotted, dots
linked by strung string. I thought I knew
where I was headed but landmarks scuttled,
and I’ve never been
any good at anagrams.

When you turned me
inside out, your hands drawing me open,
I couldn’t read
my veins to find where I left
my heart. Cold,
hand-wrapped cups like offerings, or pleas, between
us, we are two
beggars bereft of coffee or coins.

If you follow me,
we could find ourselves
in San Antonio since Canada is nearer
Alaska than Maine is to Milwaukee.
And only by arriving will we know when
to leave. Just don’t
let me loose
on the vertiginous grid of New York City, or I may
circle you forever.

Together we tripped
along this
rocky topography, this landmine-strewn
field of uncertainty rimmed only by horizon. The vista
cants, my compass is unreliable, and again
north is before me
because north is never
what I’ve had to leave

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