The maps that teased my childhood were silent.
The imagination they cosseted
was of no use. Instead of song
there was a flatness, a sheet of pastel shades.
I could find Peru, but not food.
And these maps were my inheritance.
Maps can be owned. Land is something else.
Maps can be stolen. When the atlas claps shut
those who are trapped between its pages
have no co-ordinates of place.
‘Grab and go’ is the usual way:
jewellery, cash, phones, then out and off.
It is different when what you take remains.
Too big to move and where would you put it?
And yet what can this be called but theft?
There were no trinkets to steal, no devices.
This was not mere burglary. What was taken
and sold came from the deep and mineral heart
of the place, of the premises.
It was a crime even to call it property.
Maps that are sung, that sing
in and through memory, that are not maps
but the land itself, that dance and are danced:
when these are gone the world has disappeared
and all its denizens are hollowed out.