Cheryl Kutcher



Memory operates like a map:
the flashbacks I reluctantly relive
are 2D representations
of your 3D disappearance.

Flashbacks rise like islands:
You kiss me. You are arrested.
You are transported.
You are abandoned
at the border. You are barred
from returning. Impenetrable
landmasses barricaded
from continents of presentness.

The pain I felt when I lived through it
the first time and the pain of remembering:
inseparable. Detailed, down to the stains
on my fingertips from clawing at my eyes,
the map of memory spares nothing.

I read somewhere that maps reflect
the person who draws them: funny
that my mind-map centers on islands
and oceans.

Change is unwelcome here.
Yet the moon’s guiding hand
wrecks any control I had
in knowing when to expect
erosion-causing winds.

Maps and memories originate somewhere:
some explorer sailed along the same coast
over and over until she could delineate it
on paper. But, as many times as I review
the past, the chamber where magma
pressures itself and cracks
the earth’s skin, scarring
and rebuilding itself, eludes me,
no beginning or end perceptible.

No hardening lava expanded
into these island flashbacks.
The ocean floor severed itself
and soared to the surface,

I try to explain to you
this space where I am,
but our maps vary, details
unmatched, and I don’t know
which direction to turn
or how to find your location.

The map no longer accurately depicts
my mind. Time rewrote the coastlines
and sank islands. I still sail
the old trails, follow sign markers
only I know about, that were
erased by new topography.

I navigate
in circles,
the only way
to progress.