Flat as the table it’s placed on. Nothing moves beneath it and it seeks no outlet Above—my human breath creates no stirring air and leaves its total surface undisturbed.
Its plains, valleys are always green, uplands, mountains are yellow and brown, while seas, oceans remain a kindly blue beside the tattered shores.
Everything here is small, near, accessible. I can press volcanoes with my fingertip, stroke the poles without thick mittens, I can with a single glance encompass every desert with the river lying just beside it.
A few trees stand for ancient forests, you couldn’t lose your way among them.
In the east and west, above and below the equator— quiet like pins dropping, and in every black pinprick people keep on living. Mass graves and sudden ruins are out of the picture.
Nations’ borders are barely visible as if they wavered—to be or not.
I like maps, because they lie. Because they give no access to the vicious truth. Because great-heartedly, good-naturedly they spread before me a world not of this world
Wisława Szymborska (Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh)
In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’re introducing a new series called Paired, which will feature a 20x200 edition alongside a poem selected by a team member, friend, or collector each day in April. Submissions are welcome! Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org