The Safety of Maps
This morning, coming down into dawn
I see you have left the map on the table
spread out, so we know where we are.
Latitude, 56 degrees, 31 minutes north.
Longitude, 6 degrees, 48 minutes west.
We can place ourselves exactly here
in time and temperate century
among the ruins we do not own
but which belong to us
beside the church which holds
the bones of your grandfather Neil
and in every stone of this house
we did not build, but live in.
In Kirkapol, you dissect lichen in hope
of another clue, tease it from tombstones.
Meanwhile the clouds go wild and the crazy light
of Tiree is dancing on the backs of sheep.
You prise open books for the taking of names
steal the smallest print, prepared to go blind.
You do not notice the sun go out or the fields
turn brown, do not hear the rustling of small birds
in dark grass, disturbed by your ancestors
taking the coins off their eyes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Leibrich has published poetry, children’s stories, and books on mental health and criminology. Born in England, she has lived in New Zealand since 1974. Her first collection, The Paper Road, was published in 1998 to excellent reviews and reprinted in 2001. Her work is in numerous magazines, including Poetry NZ, Landfall, Sport, The North, Envoi, Kalimat, and The Dalhousie Review, and in over twenty anthologies. She has received awards both in New Zealand and Britain and two major grants from Creative New Zealand.