While I rely on the security of finding my blue dot on the screen, I still love the mysteries of paper maps and how they mark time, revealing gaps in where we’ve been and where we are going.
Once upon a time a mapmaker told me,
“When I make a map, I visit certain places
to make sure they are there.”
I am the map reader in my dad’s car.
I unfold the southern New England states
Until it covers me like a blanket
Then I refold it so I can only see Connecticut and Rhode Island
And only the coast line.
I am looking for my place on the map
I drag my finger along I-95 through Connecticut
Then turn onto Route 2 and then Route 1
When my index finger crosses the Pawcatuck River
Into Rhode Island, I peer at the edge of land
By the Atlantic ocean.
Looking for my little town
My dot on the map.
It isn’t there
No Watch Hill
No Shelter Harbor
Especially not my dot
As the car gets nearer to the water
I wonder if it has disappeared during the winter.
Dad flicks on the blinker at Dunn’s Corner
(Also not on the map)
Now we’re headed straight at the ocean
(It’s on the map)
At my not-there dot
I sit up tall in my seat.
Will we fall into the ocean?
We are coasting along the marsh pond road
By the jetty of rocks
Past the sand dunes
Then I see it.
The Bait & Tackle shop
The Post Office
It’s all there
But the mapmaker hasn’t been here yet.