Air Map

Air Map

Air Map

Arts has moved! You can find new stories here.
A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 3 2000 3:30 AM

Air Map

The grid, west of Lincoln, Nebraska, could be
Agnes Martin's: all purplish white,
marked with hatching, Richart chocolates in
a box—some squares ribbed, some chenille,
checks close-cropped like a flat-top crew,
some wavy orbs, some purled, some knit,
some bisected by blue hypoteni,

Advertisement

until the white quilt bunches up in sun,
purple shadows blue, bluer in retreat,
stream snaked like a rip in a Reebok welt,
chunk coral's white spines of trilobites,
Rayogram leafs in negative, Abyssinian's
mussed fur post grooming's blue rinse.

Dwellings must be there but god knows where:
a field dog cuffed by an impatient man,
a truant pouring a cup of gin, a woman
leaning into her hand until her stiff side swells.
From here, it's all a flat board hatched
for a ghost's game on the earth's odd rim.
Reflected from the wing as we lunge over,
veins glint silver and mute again.

Then: brown and moss shot with threads
on the checkered body of the globe. This
body's old: the bloom is off. It folds and scabs,
ribbed like a Lhasa Apso, trussed, mossed
forest blisters on a walnut moult. Now
orbs, stripes, chutes are Missonis in an earth
toned year or, beneath brown gauze, Twister,
Bridget Rileys or make up palette a giant
lost——What's lugged in getting there!—
west, only to cross back again——
the clouds too clotted to release the grid or,
summering, the grid a gaudy green.

What is left behind—bagels, screen—what—well—
suffice—shores the variegated field of what is between.

Advertisement

 

Susan Wheeler's books are Bag 'o' Diamonds and Smokes. A current Guggenheim fellow, she teaches at Princeton University and in the graduate creative writing programs at the New School in New York City and the University of Iowa.