The Mad Cartographer

Flowers 2

By Natalie Morales

The mad cartographer arranges
scrolls with feigned precision
in tall shelves
made of ebony wood
lined with circular cellulose pulp.

Truth be told, his mind wanders
to the shores he’s never seen
the ones conveyed to him through
hasty charcoal sketches
by men who had much better things to do
than draw.

His clumsy hand knocks over
a lit candelabra,
pulling him into the present tense,
spreading wax and darkness
over his day’s difficult work.

He freezes every muscle
and listens to silence
which sounds like a watercolored shore
about to drip.

Land in zicht! he yells.
De wereld zijn ronde?
If the world is round, he thinks,
how will I ever reach the end?

The cartographer sits
trying to see his hand before him,
Ik wil, Ik wil,
A dusty mantra in the dark.

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