My Father as Cartographer by Natasha Trethewey

In dim light now, his eyes
straining to survey
the territory: here is the country
of Loss, its colony Grief;
the great continent Desire
and its borderland Regret;

vast, unfathomable water,
an archipelago—the tiny islands
of Joy, untethered, set adrift.
At the bottom of the map
his legend and cartouche,
the measures of distance, key

to the symbols marking each
known land. What’s missing
is the traveler’s warning
at the margins: a dragon—
its serpentine signature—monstrous
as a two-faced daughter.

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