Cartography

There’s a map of far from America
the black and white lines the grays

show Tigris and Euphrates converging
to define areas of control in a biblical landscape

as God watches Syria pokes a nose in
and the hunched shoulder of Arabia appears

as the world goes to break the thought
that age and holiness are inseparable comes to mind

and I realize that only by being old
does a person or an idea have a chance of becoming venerable.

Or not.

 

(I’m looking at an eighty-five year old man with a bowling ball in his hand stamp down a wooden lane way past the foul line. At last he lets the thing go, literally dropping it to the floor. The ball tries to bounce, fails, thinks of rolling a little this way or that, but loses inertia and just stops. There’s almost perfect silence, that moment where people in a single place begin thinking at the same time. Finally, and as the old man looks up from beneath his eye-lids, two pinkish curves bent like optic fiber, a voice tells him to get out into the gutter. Confused, he stands quite still, looks down at the bowling ball as though it were an untrained dog and shakes his head so slightly. The local paper carries a picture of him stood like this, his hairless skull a slight blur, as though the photographer has caught the meaning of senility on film, and the old man thinks of suing for defamation, but doubts that he’s got the time left.)

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