How can we bear a land locked life,

all geometry,

the stout red lines of mapmakers

ungenerous and unforgiving?

Where will memory live

if not among the dips and polyps

of coast lines

soft and eroded to a fine silt,

words sucked under

and released again regular as rain

and clean as kisses?

What will hold us here

if no awe makes us pause at natural edges?

Forts fall under gunsmoke,

names are undone by silence.

We will blow like dust along the plains

and cast no shadows.

Darlene Cohn is a graduate of Binghamton University, SUNY, holding both an MA and MAT in English. She lives in Valparaiso, Indiana with her husband and daughter.

This poem was inspired by my move to the Midwest from upstate New York, where I grew up.  I have often felt unmoored by the flat landscape, which in darker moments I see as featureless and drab.  At the same time, the poem refers to the dangers of clinging to artificial boundaries: those of geopolitical maps.  So much of our sense of self is derived from our physical environment, and this poem laments metaphorical homelessness -- a theme of much of my work.



Copyright 2009