Today, I watched an academic reading a map
and it seemed to me
that he had the same intensity that you see
in an artist looking at a completed canvas
or a musician reading an orchestral score.
I wanted to ask him
if the rivers actually cascade
in the landscape of his imagination,
if the gridded paper buckles
so that he sees valleys and mountains,
woodland, marshland and beaches,
if the churches with their towers and steeples
are just little map makers' symbols
or become solid stone with people inside.
Or if it stays two dimensional
and the contour lines swirl and curve
over the ridges and folds of paper
as they do when I look at a map.
But, of course, I didn't.