ELUSIVE CARTOGRAPHIES

This coming Saturday when I shall see you, a fellow human—

seems so long ago, half-years, in fact.

I’m in dog time imploring focus, but the dog doesn’t realize this—nor anyone,

I think—I might touch.

The frenzied bird lodged itself comfortably in my ransacked heart all night.

I coach myself through every micro-chess move, the tournament I’m playing against myself that, regrettably—

I’m not winning at this moment.

The brain’s language, a cluttered cartography—misfires, stuck—

in a translation that defers endlessly.

The conduit from here to there, one moment hinging faraway hours, the river to firmament, you to me—

shoots up walls—taller than the Egyptian pyramids.

To arrive perpetually—UNDONE—

forges unique humility—plummeting the ego’s

incremental chasms of uncertainty—fear, quite frankly.

Where am I now that winter has taken hostages—collapsing across layering, wailing / moaning ice—

now that my childhood ice skates are rusted beyond restoration?

There is too much to confide—but across smoke-filled gossamer—

I no longer understand you, perceive a familiar gaze—PLUS,

you’ve transformed, a spiritual morphing—glinting through your gray eyes—

tamed by sorrow.

Interminable days ago, I traced your name across the window of the doorway to my house—fogged with your elusive / vanishing breath.

Now I have found the missing encryption to unlock the afternoon,

but then I misplace it again—despite the color-coded notes of when and where precisely to travel.

My lucky star plunged into stardust last night when I preened upwards—

poured back my distressed neck to drink a newfound knowledge that would rescue me from first-hand opacity.

Now the bird has fled to the garage to gauge the windows—but finds the door to the threshold of—

Now I have finished cooking your dinner, but you are characteristically late or don’t show,

the food grows cold, and I spoon it into microwavable Tupperware—

should you show up at the porch door tomorrow, a colossal stone’s throw—

over the conduit between one and another—when all the foreign variables settle.

Mangled thoughts battling cracks in consciousness—

shall be recollected later, shabbily, with necesarry armor—without transcription,

without a working pen.

Now the bird’s wings are dusted with snow that will grace the ground beyond the picture window that needs to be Windexed tomorrow’s tomorrow.

YOU would forgive the dust in the house, clumping beneath antique typewriter keys, their red and black ribbons gone irreparably dry—

DUST resting on the dining room chandelier I can’t reach—reminding us.

YOU would forgive my languishing, my stupor that stretches eternity.

Now the dog is nervous with the winds relocating / uplifting mounds of snow toward the house’s frame.

Somewhere someone loves me multiple times and wraps a gift in canary yellow, ties a bow with dark glitter—

declares I am brave, which I become temporarily, for it is a command and not a commentary—to me, at least.

Time, I assure you, has no meaning now, and meaning proves more elusive than previously witnessed / experienced

the way the poem cocoons you with fleeting grandeur.

The sand, silk in the hourglass, slips—until I flip everything on its head—

attempt to stand on my hands, steady myself—but can’t

until I am free, dusting the night with promise—

calling your name without audible sound

from the mouth, tongue, and lips—that are gone.

You shouldn’t be sad about any of this.

Melancholy ensconces solely between chapters, the gaps on the vinyl between songs.

Trust me.

Now the sky tells a story of sky—until we forget what the sky has told us.

The main characters of the ensemble of an unwritten dark comedy have jumped off the stage, abandoned the audience for the sea.

Now I lie down in the Siberian snow to soften the burning fever, count to 742—

the number of footsteps to your door that needs a coat of fresh paint—

perhaps in the spring when the chartreuse, minutest leaf buds on the eldest trees—unfurl inspiriting light.

There are sheep, cows, and goats sprawling in fields / planes in England, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, Croatia, Iran, Australia, China—

chomping brush without worrying the future.

Camels alight the African Sahara, Mongolian Gobi desert, India’s Rajasthan, the Wadi Rum of Jordan.

There, the sun imprisons flesh, thickens the skin—

tricks the eye with flattened water, luminous—in defiant distance.

There, across the map—pagodas, shrines, temples, churches, mosques, cathedrals, fountains, sacred rivers, fathomless bodies of sea,

quickening avalanches, winding tsunamis, violent earthquakes, deadly lightning, relentless sandstorms, and gritty dust storms—

impede breath.

Now I’m dropping the lids to items that shouldn’t be contained anyway—

but compartmentalization can prove quite useful, demurred—

an ancient syntax, soon defunct—

a puzzle in place until the zephyr wreaks mayhem, tousles the hair, rips through one’s favorite coat, bends and possibly even snaps

the leaning trees that sought to drink sun.

The china from an imagined dinner party where you spoke of the afterlife

shards the hardwood floor but will become an exquisite, mirrored mosaic—

too sharp to touch.

I left the windows open for the winter air to clear the fog from my brain,

so I could remember where I placed my phone, eyeglasses, car keys, address of the new doctor.

Vicious winds pried opened my grandmother’s china cabinet and shattered that glass, too—

the skeleton key that still opens the shellacked wooden door dangles from a gauzy bookmark bestowed upon me by someone who forgot how to love.

There’s a word I can’t remember, the name of my mother’s favorite white flower—redolent, profuse with taffeta petals—soothing

not a magnolia, nor rose, nor Easter lily.

It’s okay.

Tomorrow I shall wake with the word gardenia emanating my parched mouth.

I have been to the desert overnight.

I holed up in the surprisingly /sudden / / cold / raw midnight

and with you—tallied the fractal stars.

The machine guns and machetes of the Holy Land, Wailing Wall, Dome of the Rock, Valley of Tears, Dead Sea—where we were buoyant—

perpetually behind us.

That was before I phoned you with a sadness I couldn’t afford.

That is when you brought the medicine 742 steps to my door and touched the feathers of the yellow bird—

cooing that the personal pain would one day lessen—

that everyone feels this way now and again.   

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4 Responses to ELUSIVE CARTOGRAPHIES

  1. Myke Todd says:

    That measure of time, between when you step out of the house, close the door and hear the latch click, then put your hand in pocket to make sure you have the key, that you knew without a doubt was there, but still, you had to make sure.

    That is a pause but not hesitation. It is time issued without warranty, but not wasted.

    Sometimes this action goes without notice. Other times, it is so disparaging, one has to return to the house to check the locks on all the doors.

    • Krysia Jopek says:

      Well, this / your comment is a poem in itself! Wow.

      I’ve beening thinking of thee. Will message soon, a voiceclip to go easy on my hands and brain that ran quite a marathon through the cartography of which you speak.

  2. Don Beukes says:

    “Where am I now that winter has taken hostages—collapsing across layering, wailing / moaning ice—

    now that my childhood ice skates are rusted beyond restoration?”

    The crafting of this is epic! Essence of Dr Shivago!

    • Krysia Jopek says:

      Wow! Thank you so much for this lovely comment that just made my day, Don! The poet knows she has done her job when a reader quotes lines vs. parsing them. My motto: make it as difficult for the translator as possible! And the “epic. . . . Essence of Dr. Shivago!” One day when time permits, I need to read the novel sitting on my shelf. My late, beloved father from Poland (deported to Siberia by Stalin 1939-1941) LOVED the movie and read the novel after he retired at 62 years old. Dr. Zhivago was on TV about 15 years ago, normal non-cable TV, and my dad called me into the living room to watch it with him. Thank you so much for reading this long, new poem and again, for your UPLIFTING, REAFFIRMING comment! You must be a poet yourself?? All my best wishes to you, Krysia

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