November 24, 2011 § 1 Comment
Written in September 2011.
Listen close, my dear
and I will sing you a map of the world:
of living, of dreaming and dying,
with Here Be Dragons in bits of sea
and blank places about the edges
for you to fill in yourself.
Here are the tales of old:
Heracles and the Nemean lion,
Cúchulainn and the Morrigan,
Freya and her necklace,
Raven and the sun,
Amaterasu hiding in a cave –
of course they’re real, child,
as real as you and me
as real as yesterday
as real as glass, or time, or wind.
I’m telling you a map of the world,
and it’s not a thing of ink and parchment
(though I could draw it there
in words and wonder, if you like,
but it would take a thousand libraries
to tell it all)
nor a thing of equations and formulas
but rather a thing of stories
legends, myths. . .
There are new stories, too,
bits of this map redrawn and retold;
and sometimes, very rarely,
in treasured corners, added anew.
You’ll find them in books newly published,
and in amateur scribbles on the internet,
and drawn in comics,
and written on restaurant napkins:
these are modern myths,
news or fantasy or memoir,
all valuable lines on the map of the world –
yes, even the shallow novels
with lurid garish colors that we call
tripe and fluff, and scorn as fodder
for lazy minds and dim spirits,
because even trash romances
are lipstick-smeared maps of someone’s desires,
someone’s secret shadows.
Scorn no tale,
even if it seems shallow,
even if it is hard to hear,
even if it disgusts you,
even if it enrages you.
People will say that we tell stories for survival
because it binds a community together
passes along information
little red riding hood
nearly eaten by a wolf
and so: don’t talk to strangers in the wood.
stories around a fire
mythologizing the hunt
told for generations
so that all remember
how best to procure meat
Stories for survival
and that is why we have legends
and need to retell them.
All of these things are true –
their tale of the origin of stories
is just as real
as the ones I speak of now.
Our lives are composed of myth
sung in the stories we share
the dramas we make of the little things of each day.
I can tell you my story,
and this map I’m drawing is part of that.
You can tell me your story, then,
and we will see where our maps join,
how they overlap,
maybe fill in some of the gaps
(but leave the dragons alone
they’re real, and true;
let’s not draw over them)
and then find other tales
map a little of the alien shore of another mind
for nothing is as infinite
as the landscape
of the heart.