The geography of a sandcastle

is not the same as the geography

of a wave. Some may think the wave

has a grander geography.


This I cannot promise.

I cannot promise much


but today I can promise you

I am thinking maps made of sand,

certain a book is a kind of geography.

Last week Dave sent me his.

I took it on a trip to Italy.


You could say I read Dave’s book

with my Italian face and that face,

like Dave’s, has its own geography.

I only ever see Dave’s face by mail;

his geography is that far from mine.


Our geographies once crossed in Syracuse

where our adult maps were made

and cooling lava shaped the land.

And like that we have cooled.

Now, we lie on sediment and silt.


Dave’s book had me in a Syracuse

when I lost it in the men’s room and then


it was gone and goodbye to all that.

And this missing became important to me.

For the next few months it was an omen

and if I stumbled and fell, if I cut my thumb

I would think of Dave’s book and how

it was a sandcastle collapsed in a wave.




After my wife leaves

I think of the book, cawing like a magpie.

She will not promise but I know


her geography is no longer mine

and I have a face she will only visit.


And I am sure the book

has a new skin around it, the water of the book, the kiss

of the book has new desires and it left as my Syracuse face

has left and can only be found in mail and in the distance


of all the waves, all the shores

all the shores with no waves

all the waves with no shores

all the faces that have waved

at my shore.

And the geographies only get bigger.

I promise, everyday the ocean is deeper.


The geography of ice caps melting and

the style of a sandcastle to stand.


And I know how a lost geography can return:

the geography of a lost pendant, a lost wallet,

a love, the geography of her neck. I can’t promise

but this is not impossible except when you return

to an old geography you return with a new face.




Maps on top of maps on top of maps

translucent and inaccurate but

a palimpsest nonetheless and all the time,

reading Dave’s book, I was in a Syracuse

where the ocean never arrived

and our faces never departed.


First published in 3:AM Magazine, April 2013