In other poems your disease places me.

Truth is: I’m guessing.

The ski accident—first grade—I do 


The first time I washed your hair

I don’t.

The distance between my pet traumas is not to scale.

My memory

is knotted lines near

is closer than it appears

is contouring off the map that hosts it

and shaping

the land it’s left behind.

I’m there one day on a square

of forgotten turf

when a landmark rises from the east

to confront me.

It’s not summer, but a small boardwalk still

and you and I after school

covering the whole quarter mile of it

in oversized sweatshirts.

We reach the north end in slow triumph

and you put one hand to the fence for closure.

It is the last time we will walk.

This is when I stare hard at the map.

This is when I should be able

To put a firm hand on the average rail with you

And say, I am this many years old, I have been here before,

and I remember.

But a snow-capped mountain intervenes—

and your clean hair.

I miss true North,

all coordinates run off,

all measuring errors vary again,

a concept complicated

by the curvature of the earth’s surface

a moment lapsing over the horizon

over you on a boardwalk in not-summer

and a bent sheen from which my vision slips.

Then I find myself

at the base of one site

surveying the empty plane.

Where did it go?

At any given moment, the whole map

held between terrestrial poles

waits for the altitude to shift.