Using a lens flattened by his heel,
Mercator imagined the world
after Giotto’s eye-trick for round and deep,
back to front. Grolier, Hammond and Oxford
drew, by extending his lines, their guess at Troy,
their tabulations of tea, rubies and gin.
I pass my hand over sketchy borders,
treaties and pacts, incursions of painted faces.
A red line hashed by blue dotted labels,
crosses over pools of ink to the rims of country,
domain, even realms under reign, highlighting tallies
of skeletons with arrows of GDP.
I’m getting crumbs in the margin. That’s a 2
in millions of Vietnamese who died
from the convolutions of rescue.
Underlined dollars graph their score since 1946,
a carousel of color spinning off the title page.
Little notes of previous wars conspire
for jurisdiction, wag little truces, splay
bright arrows of gold, tin, B52s.
Little parachutes sewn into sails
luff from the masts of liberated isles.
Such art, such flamboyance, He is giddy
over a wedge lifted notably, an appropriate
slice, larger than others,
balanced, pertly, on his shoulder.
Along the pages, I chase down a line
easterly for tea, marjoram and ginger root
spreading pinpoints by the width of my thumb.
Hellespont, Troy, Persia before the war,
from Perth to the Pribilofs, I veer at the lines
gathering way, tacking blue arcs that intersect
similes of fences, flags, and treaties.
Following my finger’s meandering dash,
I cross-reference truce with ores and mills.
In north and southerly legends of color
my finger lingers in an arrow’s path
of gold and tin, rubies and gin.
Stretching from pole to pole, one line
or another overlaps Shackleton, Drake, De Soto
stirring blue to wind-churned foam, cresting into ice.
Distance blurs in the whirl of oscillating days.
Trekking along roads with Rommel, I can feel
the concussion of helmets stacked in August
from Cherbourg to Caen. Their ears are plugged,
they duck the shadows of metal wings.
I’m getting crumbs in the silhouettes
of dreadnoughts, parachutes, airplanes.
Nineteen forty five smears its ink across the border,
the realms fading into gray-scaled hues
blur country, domain, even those under reign.
Skeletons, tallied with the GDP, chime
from air stirred by the pages fanned by my thumb.