This poem is really several years in the making, in that I’ve been thinking about trying to write a poem on the topic for at least that long, and I’m still not convinced it’s entirely finished. My purpose in writing it is to try to explain part of why cities and places are so important to me.

27 March 2017, in College Park, Maryland

“The map is not the territory.”
It’s easy to remember this truth
when I bury myself head-deep in maps:
I trace and re-trace their lines and symbols
and wonder what is really there.

But then I walk that territory,
and wander its roads alone,
seeking out the hidden paths—
ley lines of vanished steel and vanished feet—
among the hurried travelers of today.

And for all I see and feel
of the truth of where I walk,
I merely make another map:
a simple tracing on a cloudy mirror
of a truth too full for my mind to hold.

So though I know the hope is vain,
I humbly pray the gods who here dwell
may accept and bless my unworthy map:
that for a single glorious moment,
I may be one with the place.