I speak to maps. And sometimes they something back to me. This is not as strange as it sounds, nor is it an unheard of thing. Before maps, the world was limitless. It was maps that gave it shape and made it seem like territory, like something that could be possessed, not just laid waste and plundered. Maps made places on the edges of the imagination seem graspable and placable.
― by Abdulrazak Gurnah, By the Sea
The Shape of Dust
A dull-black dusty bootheel holds
his Adam’s apple to floor while
uniformed, sanctioned rapists’
empty-eyed stubbles decide
Dust rises from bus stampedes
that rumble with wails and sighs
Checkpoint pivots decide lives
along concertina wreathed borders
Miticide dust makes her cough
Choosing between nakedness
and breath, she sighs, wheezes
as she’s marched to her cage
Cot springs dig; she chooses
a side, curls under loose weaves,
her bunny, dusty, threadbare
warm in her tear-stained cling
Lillipution delusions fall in the mud
as skewed lenses shatter
Flat feet bleed from their shards
Lines wash away in cool green rain
Tanzanian Abulrazak Gurnah was announced as the winner of The Nobel Prize in Literature today. Learn more about Mr. Gurnah here.
Top illustration by Daniel Montero-Galan.
Bjorn is today’s host of dVerse’ Meet The Bar. Bjorn wants us to write a poem in the cadralor form and encourages us to connect to the spirit of Gurna if we choose. This is my second entry for the challenge today and an attempt to connect with those who find themselves needing to flee from a country, attempting to seek asylum in another land, and what they may face in their journey towards sanctuary. Speaking to the top quote, with maps possession is possible, and it is also the choice what to do with that stewardship. My poem’s running themes are dust (the land we say we possess) and the choices (of what to do with our stewardship.) Thank you again, Bjorn, for the prompt form.