Map


IMG_1062

 

Map

 

You aren’t listening

said the tree

 

the map isn’t found

in a numbering of needles, in sorting

by hue 

or desire

or in measuring 

our height, and girth —

 

life isn’t 

a matter

of scale.

 

Instead,

set down your pen

and the thin sleeve

of your skin

 

and come closer, opened, holding

the small stones

of your fears

 

each meant 

for a cairn

set along a new path

 

through the thickets

of what it means

to be a body —

 

this is the map you seek:

a living 

in contours

 

rooted 

in the rich dust

of love 

and loss

 

while stretching 

with new leaves

to the sky.

 

 

This poem came together after I learned about the work of Resmaa Menakem (you can do this yourself here).

To me, his wise and articulate perspective on racialized trauma feels incredibly important — both in general, and personally, as I work to map out my role in our country’s racial revolution. It feels like a puzzle piece I’ve long been searching for and, finally, can now glimpse in a nearly-out-of-reach space under the couch. 

Menakem’s insights also reminded me: Going after our missing pieces will challenge us, and surprise us. Stretching further than is comfortable isn’t really about what we retrieve, or even in completing the big picture (as satisfying as that idea may be). What matters more is the life we live in the reaching, with integrity, for each other.

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