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spacer.gif   Jennifer Harris
Posted by : cj on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 03:40 PM
Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name
(Excerpts from "Navigator")

Draw me a map of the world! Not just any map,
I want a map that will show me where you are
in relation to me, a map with loopy circles
hand-drawn in red. I want a map that says:


in those big bold letters. I want to know
what it's like to point to a dot and say
I see, I see, I'm just 2.5 miles from you.
Draw me a map in neat cursive,
all the lines connected, a connect-the-dot
map, a map for the masses!


The other day I rented a car, an Oldsmobile
and drove to Kentucky to find you.
I drove to Pensacola, to Rome, to Tibet
only you weren't at any of the gas stations,
and you weren't hitchhiking either.
It's a shame, I would have stopped for you.
I would have pulled over and waved,
let you climb in, sit next to me.
I'd let you navigate the drive all the way
back to Chicago, to the great Midwest
you and me driving along to the AM radio
singing and waiting for the next great sign.


I will build a rocketship and name it for you
it will be made out of diamonds
so no one will find me, I will blend
into the Milky Way, one more dot
on the horizon, just below the Little Dipper.
I will write you a note in advance, tell you
I'm coming but won't tell you when.

I want it to be a surprise, one of those
happy reunions with balloons and cake.
We'll shake up the cosmos, a samba and two-step.
I will travel through space in diamonds,
your favorite gem, the hardest to crack.
I will use superglue, seal it up real tight.
I will build and build and build.


The world is not so difficult to carry, as one might suspect.
I bought a 1950s atlas for three bucks and it hardly weighs a thing.
I can lift it with one hand while bouncing a ball with the other,
the world in paperback fits nicely on a shelf. Is neatly color-coded
according to countries and boundaries and water.
I take the world out into my backyard and lay down in the grass
and the world, though slightly out of date, is flat on my thighs.
I flip through the pages, sipping lemonade and consider the chances
of shooting stars colliding, of comets hurling themselves at my feet,
of the sun going nova and true love. What are the odds

of two people in an infinite universe pulled by gravity and rain
and dark matter, what are the odds of swimming the Pacific
to the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. What are the odds
of science, of genetic reproduction, of nuclear warheads.
My atlas is sixty-five pages, it's missing so much.


I am hoarding globes. Globes that spin around and around.
I am constructing a model of the universe made out of Plaster of Paris.
I am building paper airplanes to circumnavigate my globes and a sailboat
of Popsicle sticks I will sail through my hand-crafted universe.

I'm not worried about regressing into childhood, I'm following
the laws of nature, circling back into history where I'll find you.
You are Uruguay and Uranus, you are the Black Sea and the Balkans,
you are fossils and hammers, you are comets and rocket fuel.


Whenever I am feeling misdirected
which is often the case, I pull out the road map
pull over to the side of the road and stare
at the lines. Northbound and south
all the directions converge in the center.
The way a collapsed star sucks everything in,
stop signs, semi-trucks, apple pie.
I am behind the wheel of a car
and can go anywhere I want.
I stare at the map and wonder how long
I could sit there, on the side of the road,
I could become a stupa and people would
come to me, leave prayers and stones.


I don't know how long it will take
to reach you. I've written out the directions
carefully in ink, which junction to turn left at,
how to avoid the most stop lights.
My map is coffee stained and a mess,
there's a rip where I've torn off a corner
hoping that bit would make you closer,
I could save on gas and mileage.
If only it weren't so difficult
to find you, I drew a straight line
thinking it would cut down the time.
I'm all buckled up, stepping on the gas,
I'm edging out of the driveway.

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