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