Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


My Father as Cartographer

In dim light now, his eyes
     straining to survey
the territory: here is the country
     of Loss, its colony Grief;
the great continent Desire
     and its borderland Regret;

vast, unfathomable water,
    an archipelago—the tiny islands
of Joy, untethered, set adrift.
    At the bottom of the map
his legend and cartouche,
    the measures of distance, key

to the symbols marking each
    known land. What’s missing
is the traveler’s warning
    at the margins: a dragon—
its serpentine signature—monstrous
    as a two-faced daughter.

Credit


From Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey. Copyright © 2018 by Natasha Trethewey. Used with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Author


Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey, who has served as both the state poet laureate of Mississippi and the U.S. poet laureate, received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2007. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2019.

Date Published: 2018-10-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/my-father-cartographer