THE MAP OF THE WORLD, 1630, by Henricus Hondius

 

Here, the new world does not exist, lies somewhere

beyond the borders of vegetation, globed fruits:

grapes, melons, apples, the known demarcations.

Somewhere in Corsica, my ancestors

work the land, raise olives, picking them by hand

from twisted trees.  Time’s cartographer has been at work

on the parchment of their skin; rivers and their tributaries

run blue towards the sea down the delta of their hands.

He has etched the province of their mouths and the forehead’s terrain

with parallel lines, prime meridians.  Their world does not extend

beyond day’s end, the glass of grappa, food put by for winter,

burlap sacks of chestnuts resting by the stove.  How could they imagine

a passport, red and gold, the towering stone forests of the terra nova

that would one day fill the horizon past the railing of the SS Nord America,

where a small eleven-year-old girl, my grandmother, recorded only

as part of the baggage of her uncle Gaetano, finally reaches the shore.

 

 

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