Mapping the World*

August 21, 2016

Mapping the World - Joe Nolting
2016 Merit Award
By Joe Nolting

I held your newborn body, felt the sudden
tug of your tiny heart on mine. Questions took root
as your dark eyes probed the universe. I had no answers
for these silent queries but drew a map of the world
above your crib so that you might find your way, travel
unburdened, never be lost. I shaded the landscape of
family and friends gold. Drew love’s gentle contours —
shapes of a head and heart and hand.
Traced routes skirting the debris field of loss.
As you grew older my map became frayed,
landmarks faded, known places vanished like smoke.
Soon you drew your own map of the world.
The countries were shaped like monsters and bore
terrifying names. Safe passageways had been erased.
Every crossing harbored new hazards. You read your map
as a blind man and journeyed in the darkness through
newly drawn continents of fear. For years you stumbled
across this troubled land, dropped a breadcrumb trail,
unraveled an endless ball of twine, whispered inchoate
prayers to keep from getting lost. Slowly, step-by-step
you found all that you needed to build a compass —
one whose needle floated on a tiny sea of courage
and always pointed to your heart. You tore up your map.
Now you knew the way and all the place
names sounded like love.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2016 by Joe Nolting. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

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