Off the Map

off the map
by jim benz
Except for faces and hands, there is no surface
that defines our mutual convergence.
“Your blue is clear / as on the first day.
In your presence I am a man …”
She stared at the sky, asking herself, “How much poetry
will a man use, like a dog, sniffing at crust?”
I replied, “For the answer to become clear,
we simply need to ask.”
“But your grandfather and grandmother gradually
forgot. Your relatives all forgot.”
She thought breeding education should accompany
the general education: “Oh, I’m an average breeder.”
“The ram leaped / and the seal
disported on small rocks …”
She shrieked. The water was thigh deep
and freezing. Our bodies were finally cooling.
After a day and a night, we left / the island
and walked back into the village.
We were out of food, but food had become
like distance and time.

0 thoughts on “Off the Map

  1. Hmm. Much to think about here. The differences of people excite and put a spark into life. There seems to be a lot of Yin Yang philo-observation in the poem, or immense considerations in duality perspectives. The poem is written in couplets, has 2 characters/people involved who are man and woman, mention of ‘day’ and ‘night’, ‘distance’ and ‘time’, ‘ram’ (land) and seal (water),’grandfather’ and ‘grandmother’–but these things complete each other in a way, do they not? …because they are a part of a whole. I also liked the imagery/setting of an island and the way the two travelers trek thru the wilderness and come to the village in the ending. Or maybe that’s me writing too much into it with my head. I went back and re-read that they ‘left the island’ before getting back to the village–hmm. So ‘island’ appears to me to be a symbol here of that place we go, that poetic place, where we wonder about the marvels of life.
    Use of quotes in conversation is very good touch here i would say–to install some dialogue or back and forth give and take which is essentially life itself, is it not? My take on the slash (/) used in lines 3, 13, and 17 is that the poet subject, the writer presumably, is speaking poetry to his companion–the slash being used to seperate lines in a poem–written poetry as opposed to spoken poetry (another dualism). Bringing up a poem within a poem seems concentrically and connectingly perceptive and imaginative. The line: ““How much poetry will a man use, like a dog, sniffing at crust?”
    I replied, “For the answer to become clear,we simply need to ask.”” …These questions beg the question ‘what is poetry’ and the answer is in the poem. Very keen!

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