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
The distance between my pet traumas is not to scale.
is knotted lines near
is closer than it appears
is contouring off the map that hosts it
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.