Mapping the Coast

I’ve been thinking a lot about mapping, map-making, cartography and mark-making recently. A whole bundle of thoughts going into reading poems as verbal maps. But I’ve also been thinking about the futility of mapping. There are quandaries as to what we consider mappable. The biggest obstacle in our way of thinking about maps is our insistence on a ‘true map.’ Such a ‘true map’ must be of a physical place and must fit within our expectations what a map -is- and also what is should look like, i.e. like google maps or wises road maps.

This is a very rigid way of looking at space but also a rigid way of looking at time and experience, which are also very mappable.

This is a recent poem that regards the futility of the ‘true map’.

Mapping the Coast

I walk toe to heel along the lines drawn
from memory

of the place in which I now stand. The lines’ representation
is askew.

I know that the line I am on was meant to be
a coastal line.

But the coast is neither here nor there. The tracing
of a pencil

craggy along an un-walked shore
hides the tides.

Beneath my feet is the intermediary of
land and sea.

The lapping of white frothed seawater licks
at my feet

as it does, the coastal line is drawn closer
to the shore

as the sea recedes, leaving bubbles between my toes, the line
goes with it.

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