By Terry Wright
The first journey begins with empty space,
an ink bottle, and trembling pen, which must be steadied.
No one thinks how brave the first cartographer has to be.
In the bird’s nest, with the spyglass, new countries
come into view. A journal is written and toasts are made.
The mapmaker must get down to work.
Crosshatches and compass roses lay sense upon
the curvilinear hips and swells of the new world.
A bootstep in the sand is washed away on the next tide.
In the guttering lamplight parchment is unrolled
and planes and arrows mark the way. Between the
old country and the edges of the new one:
Here there be dragons. A coiling serpent with a forked
tongue winks its eye and the manatees roll and roll
again, disappearing under the waves.
He is knighted for his service to the realm. On his
deathbed his fingers mark cardinals in the air:
I discovered them as I named them.