Poem of the Week: “No Map” by Stephen Dobyns

No Map


How close the clouds press this October first

and the rain—a gray scarf across the sky.

In separate hospitals my father and a dear friend

lie waiting for their respective operations,

hours on a table as surgeons crack their chests.

They were so brave when I talked to them last

as they spoke of the good times we would share

in the future. To neither did I say how much

I loved them, nor express the extent of my fear.

Their bodies are delicate glass boxes

at which the world begins to fling its stones.

Is this the day their long cry will be released?

How can I live in this place without them?

But today is also my son’s birthday.

He is eight and beginning his difficult march.

To him the sky is welcoming, the road straight.

Far from my house he will open his presents—

a book, a Swiss army knife, some music. Where

is his manual of instructions? Where is his map

showing the dark places and how to escape them?


from Body Traffic: Poems by Stephen Dobyns

Copyright 1990 by Stephen Dobyns

Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: