A shift of perspective.
A sudden traverse across a bridge, cracked,
solder flaking into the river below,
water the color of mulch.
Map open we trace lines along states,
each outline a possibility.
Imagine valleys of oaks, mountains,
roads cleared of ice,
grains of snow swirling above the tarmac.
In the desert plains blister,
weeds collect on a chain-link fence,
I read from the map what I already know:
Lines traced tell us nothing more than proximity.
From it I cannot read
all that we can take from this life.
I cannot discern the size of houses,
visits by neighbors, glares and idle chatter,
who has died and how,
the color of skin.
All I know is when we agree on something
I count back with my fingers
and say, there,
that is where I want to live.
(Originally published in Los Angeles Review, 2006)