Poetry. Paper, Perfect Bound
Red Dancefloor Press, 1997
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The Complex Task of Refolding an Open Map
by Gerry LaFemina
I understand scars, the pair
on your leg, long and linear— one above your left knee, the other
just below. Rivers on your skin map.
I imagine all the wounds I might
have received, a life in which I resist
the man who forced me, at seven,
to discover the contours of his cock.
A knife in his left hand, the right
imitating a lover’s against my cheek.
I knew the valleys a blade could cut.
And of the battles outside a pool hall
in my youth, I recall, now, every near miss
or quick dodge as a hit, a move
So many islands exist
because volcanoes vomit
lava landscapes. Continental drift:
a ripping of land masses.
Cartographers understand this violence
of topography; how maps change,
daily victims of climate and time.
We live in a small town, Manhattan.
Outside, rain creates potholes.
I unfold a photo album:
an atlas of you at all ages, a history
of a strange land, always
getting stranger. While you sleep,
I’m awake charting landscapes
that’ll be outdated by dawn.
You ask what I do. I make maps.