Creased Earth

Taking down the map

I was in a hurry, and the map was only partly attached.
As I peeled the tape off the walls, I surveyed the soft, worn edges of the map–
Old tack holes pierced the corners in clusters, and folded-over tape remnants from previous reigns.
This map had hung in my bedroom for over a decade now,
Its occupancy having begun on the purple walls of youth
And followed me from childhood house to dorms to a chain of apartments.
I tucked over the edges of the tape and struggled to fold it by its original creases
But I was in a rush because it was easier to pack in a haste that
Swept up the dusty memories dripping with honey-like nostalgia and blown out the door with a quick brush.
Yes, I had coddled nostalgia like a newborn to my chest before, and knew it served no happy purpose,
So the map became a lumpy pocket-sized paper rectangle tossed in a cardboard box.

Moving the map

On the drive to my new place I hit every pothole in the city,
Clenching my teeth tighter with each rattle.
Right then, I hoped my car would endure long enough so as to not inconvenience Future Me,
Or even Slightly Future Me,
Because that coupe had been my horsepower since my early college years
And had an intense topography of the city’s roadwork shortcomings beat against its underbelly
And I didn’t know much about cars, but had a strong gut feeling this one was getting too worn.
The map had its seat in Box 5, Section Backseat, and Row Underneath some candles and a cigar box.
I wouldn’t need it for navigating,
Because we were headed just across town,
Toting my stuff around the neighborhood once again.

The map’s arrival

“Just throw this shit anywhere” was my elaborate instruction to my friends, who were unloading my boxes from their truck.
It’s important to have friends with trucks, my mother always taught me, jokingly.
What the two of us couldn’t do on our own, we had connections for, although Ma and I managed a lot just the two of us.
It didn’t do to think of her raspy voice speaking husks of wisdom right now, though,
Tinting the hue of my perspective on that moving day afternoon
So that melancholy twisted its restricting embrace around my clammy heart.
The map’s box was tossed into my bedroom and remained packed for two more weeks,
Seeing the light only once during when the flaps were opened so I could rummage through,
In a search for my old notebook full of usernames and passwords.

Unpacking the map

My boyfriend unburies the map.
“What about this?” he asks, unfolding the heap.
I shrug, and he studies it before him like a scribe with a scroll, and I snort at the thought of him in jester clothes.
When he gives me a quizzical glance, I turn back to the clothes I’m sorting through,
All from college because I haven’t done much shopping since.
In five years, anyway, my body has remained a constant shape, and I am perfectly content with the wardrobe I have.
“Put it up over my bed,” I finally say over my shoulder,
And twist around a moment later to see him holding it up for my approval, right over the headboard of my bed frame.
I nod.

Hanging up the map

It’s a map of the world, stretching west to east like arm to arm, when it’s mounted on the wall.
Each country is a different color, like a mosaic of human ego splattered upon the land and sea.
I used to think that the paint-by-dollars colors of the territories were pretty,
But now I would rather see the layout of the earth as it is, the mountains and rivers and deserts and forests
That roll freely across the globe until people came and cut it up and auctioned off the slices.
All I feel is anger, anyway, like metallic shards in my mouth and throat and nose.
I pick up the tape off my desk and walk over to my boyfriend, ducking underneath his one arm so that
His arms are around me as I reach up to tape the top of it to the wall.
“This place is really starting to come together,” he comments,
“I hope you’ll be happier here.”
I can make him no promises, no promises like the crumpled hood of a vehicle’s accordion-folded corpse
Between two trucks, neither of them a friend of Ma’s,
And no promises like “I’ll see you after the movie” and “Okay Ma, see you later.”
I feel no traction with promises anymore, they are the loose hand that slips limply from my fingertips
And somewhere far away, unattainable.

Living with the map

We step back after the map is affixed, and it’s only slightly slanted, which I find endearing and acceptable.
It does add a pleasant palette of color against my plain white walls.
My boyfriend rubs my arm a second, and moves on to the next item in the box.
I, though, linger to look longer at it, the map that I’ve tried to adhere so many dreams to,
That I’ve attempted to splash into so many times, and only ended up in the same quadrant of the world,
With only a piece of paper to indicate any other faction of the world exists.
I like the way it looks, in this new corner,
And the familiar creases in the map hang loosely, though still shadowed,
And as my boyfriend sets up more of my Knick knacks and posters, the nostalgia wants to tickle my feelings,
Playing like movies in my head the legends behind each piece of me set up in the room.
“Hey this is cool,” he says, picking up an action figure of Wonder Woman, an old toy I kept for display.
“Actually,” I say, approaching him and the artifact,
“Funny story about that one…”

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