[how much of the map]

how much of the map
               could be labeled
                              terra incognita

how much        unknown        invisible to others
        how much of myself    could I shake off
abandon               those undiscovered places
               [I barely know]        exist

        though the map is not the territory
how I am drawn        to leave behind the pattern
               for the path        for a minute
                          an hour        for one whole day
I'd be like a Wintu               describing the body
               using cardinal directions

he touches me on the west arm
                                        the river is to the east
                     when we return          his east arm
circles around me        and the river
                             stays to the west

               without that landscape        to connect to
        who am I        apart from what surrounds me

at the edge of the unknown        dirt
               unceasingly does my thinking
                              in bonam/malem partem
until it is a smooth stone in my mouth

venturing forward        doubling back
                 what I see            depends on where I am

if there be death
                 if the dark night of the soul
                                 O, I know what is waiting

every threshold is sacred
                 the eternal allure
                                 of what comes next

Francine Sterle, "[how much of the map]" from What Thread?. Copyright © 2015 by Francine Sterle. Reprinted by permission of Red Dragonfly Press.
Source: What Thread? (Red Dragonfly Press, 2015)
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