A Cartography of Childhood

As I blur my eyes to a soft focus,
the marigold splotches

of “built-up areas”
become stars,

and constellations stripe out
along the major highways.

Cities glitter and stream.
Suburbs pulse

into the blank spaces.
Demarcations shift–

Cygnus glides below Springfield,
stretching his interstate wings

toward Champaign/Urbana.
Rockford, the head

of the ram, arching and forlorn,
curls into its own

untold secret. Chicago anchors
the blue exhalation

of Lake Michigan,
pressing its slender crescent

onto the curved collar
like a Japanese fan.

And to think
this is all I knew of life

‘til I was eleven–
checkerboard streets,

that serrated edge we called shoreline,
clumps of cartoon trees

to mark the Forest Preserves.
All the raccoons I knew

lived where the tip of that brush
touched paper.

David Rutiezer
c. 2008