A Cartographer, I Considered
Spectacled, heavy on a rosy face, hidden among stacks, drawing inventions of maps – delineating frontiers between playful apparatchik and fields where the healthy and husky scrambled games I couldn’t be bothered to learn the constructed rules of play.
Naming regions of gravel and grass in derivations of Iowa towns and possibly Balkan enclaves. Tracing roads across trucking routes and Roman ruins built to the width of chariot wheels-cemented as standards for mine entrance bringing a horse to shores, away from relations to new lives, absent from home still never known beyond memories, Serio-graphed into filtered ideals.
Yet an unsteady hand and overall disconnect, or even indifference, which led to a place to “settle” – build a house from logs, and seasoned by time, after hewn, nailed and assembled by saw blade and heavy sludge, forged by a possible cousin who always remain a stranger. The blade remains anonymous as an un-muttered pithy quote en route to cliché.
Neither did exploding suns, brilliant and fleeting, assembled in patterns, ~ shared by the patient and measured in Newtonian units – still could not muster a journey – hence gazed, but ignored as impractical, nigh impossible.
Translucent layers, super-imposed and stacked, detailing azimuths, trajectories and elevations – separating fertile valleys (though subject to floods) from talus slopes too steep but for mountain rams on the shady flank of Timpanogos.
Dotted dashed and surveyed, specific dots explained in legend denoting assigned capitals, provincial outposts, and occasionally hamlets determined by polled populations, overseen with constructed superintendents, supported by varying address of retainers.
Intrigued by absence of obvious order though not my task to chart.
Instead, as per instinct, selected and committed to memory, devoid of context, thin slices of knowledge swirling in a petri vacuum – accurate as such, but irrelevant
So i journeyed to wonder about likely motivations which took Normans, Pharaohs and troubadours beyond the point of unknown return. Capes left in wakes with dates and hard-track to fortify a quest alleged to diagram flora.
Among them, I reference guide notes from decades past – as vague as possible to acquire allowing white-space and risk. Packed in burlap next to a survivor’s stove and pouch of seeds and spices and an important black pencil. Only planned to go one way, impartial to return rather to chronicle the unfamiliar.
The familiar left far behind as physics might allow – exchanged possible comfort in normalcy for uncertainty contentment in ambiguity. Meandering concentric routes, devoid of patterns or ready purpose.
Answers are easier in cliché, ergo:
“I’ll know when i get there” –
Town to creek to roadside conundrum – I swirled each in mouth , pretending my palette featured a vocabulary to explain to unseeing why I hadn’t settled for seemingly ideal locales, situations and specific circumstance to flourish.
Eventually, after farm toil, beach frolic, rough nights in dangerous morass, leaping turrets of ruins and painful heaving, missed junctions and forgotten aims, at a campfire in a lake-forest with a khaki-scout familiarity, I stumbled through an unfavourable gale, onto the intended coast
I mocked myself for misnamed non-discoveries, i assumed as fragrant promised lands of plenty allowed to the intrepid erstwhile accidental navigators.
Teased over misread hieroglyphics and misappropriated meaning to stone wheels quarried a far, hauled by double-hulled craft powered by taro and current and fickle breeze.
I could no longer mock with unearned disdain, the vaunted and faulted explorers, stolen secrets leading to some anomaly errantly pro-claimed as new or proper or divine.
Earnestly deterred, i occurred to map a universe of flesh and thought. Breath and sounds assembled into meaning.
The crease on cheek, the measure of brow, the angle of toes, magnitude of halo surrounding chameleon eyes and the mysterious enthusiasm of all which exists between.
Thwarted, not by scenery but by shaking confessions, fumbled after a stealth crossing at an indifferent frontier town. I’d escaped to my holy land I presumed for an instant before minor catastrophe.
Stalled at an unwelcoming inn where i laid myself bruised and bare to a lover temporarily transformed to a stranger after i let the truth languish, vanquished by the uncertainty of resolved and fear or wounding the occasionally innocent.
She walked out vested, blithely, pithy saying “I know” unwittingly perhaps offering just enough loft to push a tattered sail across a colour-coded sea mis-named as somewhere calm.
The explorer hides. Alone, entirely lost and surrendered to fates incomprehensible to the battered. Uncontrollable by the hostage. Yet clinging to an adrenaline determination to manufacture strength to another foray.
Monk-like, minus faith, discipline, dogma or skill at ringing bells, relying on rice gruel and fragrant hope, the cartographer gathered charcoal, fired for unsteady hands, and a redrew boundaries to conceive an entirely new Pangea with concessions to speculate, plunder and charts assigned exclusively to only two.
daveo, Oct. 2017 North Pacific, bound southward