Beneath a Trespass of Sorrow (Poem by Margaret Randall, Maps by Barbara Byers)

, by Margaret Randall

the skin of the earth is seamless
—Gloria Anzaldúa

From Mercatur and Gall-Peters projections
to the mapus mundi of seafaring explorers,
atlases showing oil, water or CIA
designations, we have become our maps.
Once mountains established borders, once
Rome was the world. When a traveler
breached the narrow cleft of rock
opening to Petra’s plat of tombs
or a canyon alcove defined the limits of
Ancestral Puebloan life, who
belonged and who was kept out?
Whose branch traced a map in wet earth?
From their power, cartographers
place borders out of reach,
crowd inhabitants close
as if playing a parlor game.
With big guns or quieter betrayal
map making’s omnipotence
pummels its angry lines
through memory. . .