The Map

By Gary Soto b. 1952 Gary Soto
When the sun’s whiteness closes around us
Like a noose,

It is noon, and Molina squats
In the uneven shade of an oleander.

He unfolds a map and, with a pencil,
Blackens Panama

Into a bruise;
He dots rain over Bogotá, the city of spiders,

And x’s in a mountain range that climbs
Like a thermometer

Above the stone fence
The old never thought to look over.

A fog presses over Lima.
Brazil is untangled of its rivers.

Where there is a smudge,
Snow has stitched its cold into the field.

Where the river Orinoco cuts east,
A new river rises nameless

From the open grasses,
And Molina calls it his place of birth.

Gary Soto, “The Map” from The Tale of Sunlight (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978). Copyright © 1978 by Gary Soto. Reprinted with the permission of the author,

Source: The Tale of Sunlight (1978)

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Poet Gary Soto b. 1952


Subjects History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Gary  Soto


Gary Soto is known for a body of work that deals with the realities of growing up in Mexican-American communities; in poems, novels, short stories, plays and over a two dozen books for young people, Soto has recreated the world of the barrio, the urban, Spanish-speaking neighborhood where he was raised, bringing the sights, sounds and smells vividly to life within the pages of his books. Soto’s poetry and prose focus on everyday . . .

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SUBJECT History & Politics, Social Commentaries


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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