Mapping Choices

For We Write Poems Prompt #14 make a list

Mapping Choices

First, must unwind bound scroll of fine paper,
unroll it, lie it flat atop large table, or desk.
Secure it there with books, or heavy smoothed
stones garnered, then brought home from life’s
travels. And so begin to make a map, to mark
the making of choices, noting the how, the why,
and the when, they each came into being.

Use black bold-line pen to shape each boundary,
form them, clearly outlined as they snuggle against
one another, always touching, changing, connected.
Then, with soft lead pencil, create uneven hatch
marks denoting mountains defined, climbed,
while others will always remain, unexplored
and never ventured.

With soft crumbly charcoal stick, shade deep
valleys of restful breezes, and rocky canyons
where careful step is needed. Using harder
lead, draw spider web of river courses, bending
line of highways that intersect, then wander off
in deliberately owned directions. Path
of intermittent slashes to signify tangents
taken, some that went somewhere, others
that end in cul de sacs.

Numerous wavy lines of heat rising, lead
to desert places, where life owns different
faces, not always readily visible. Might need
to dig out colored pencils to fill in dark green
forests filled with wild things met and named
as friends, while still others are unknown,
but waiting. Don’t forget the wetlands, a base
of blue bordered by tint of fecund green, for life
rich in nurture, but always some danger of fast
moving, prey seeking creatures.

After filling that fine linen paper with grafted
and drafted topography, must display a compass
that points toward four sacred directions:
North for Knowledge and Wisdom;
East for spiritual truth that rises like the sun;
South for Emotions, the Child within;
and West for a Future Unknown.

Then we will sit to sip weather ordained
beverages, for only then can we begin
to fill in gaps, to tell,
the rest of the story.

Elizabeth Crawford  8/11/10


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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23 Responses to Mapping Choices

  1. Mary says:

    Definitely an interesting approach to ‘making a list.’ Seems like a map of a life, both journeys taken and journeys yet to take. I’d say we all head West to a future unknown.

    • 1sojournal says:

      Mary, there was a time in my life, when every time I turned around, I was running into the word “Montana”. Books I was reading, tv commercials, and even customers coming into the Bookstore and wanting their things shipped there. I began to get the idea that I must go West. What was even funnier, was that as I told others about this quirky phenomenon, they began to come back and tell me they were also running into the same thing.

      Eventually, I did make a two week road trip to Montana, and it was both beautiful and mind-blowing in so many ways. And it was also the beginning of an Unknown Future because it was shortly afterward that I was first asked to do some teaching.

      And although, when I started writing this, my idea was to list the steps one might have to take in making such a map, I have now realized that there are at least three more lists within the poem itself. Perhaps, one for each of those sacred directions?


  2. Bravo.I love this poem
    The use of concrete art implements to render thoughts is a powerful visual image

    “Might need
    to dig out colored pencils to fill in dark green
    forests filled with wild things met and named
    as friends, while still others are unknown,
    but waiting. “

    • 1sojournal says:

      Linda, thanks, I like that Bravo, a lot. And I do a lot of pen and ink drawing, both black and white, as well as colored. I’ve dabbled in many of the visual arts, and have always been intrigued by cartography, though I’ve never actually done it, other than as an exercise for other things. One of my volumes of poetry is titled “Here, but for me, there be dragons.” An epitaph that was put on old maps to specify territory not yet explored.

      Glad you like and enjoyed the poem,


  3. Diane T says:

    I enjoyed the intricate and colorful details in this poem, how you explained the process of making choices. Life really does take one along a fascinating, sometimes unexpected, path, sometimes in one direction (N,S,W, or E) and sometimes another. Well written.

    • 1sojournal says:

      Hi Diane, glad you liked it. The directions and their meanings are symbols derived from Native American spirituality, something I have explored for many years and find very meaningful.


  4. brenda w says:

    Beautiful. I love how you left openings for yourself for further exploration. “others still unknown, but waiting…” Respect for nature runs through this piece. Thank you for sharing your gift.

    • 1sojournal says:

      Brenda, I do have a tendency to talk to the animals and you might be surprised at how often I get a response. Nature has an immense amount to teach us, but only when we approach with the respect she deserves. I had a hawk, who once gave me a feather, and many such encounters. Some of them are told right here on this site, and others are still waiting.


  5. pamela says:

    Elizabeth life does take us on some interesting paths and you have written it so well here.

  6. 1sojournal says:

    Thank you Pamela, and I would have to agree with you 100%. And it is amazing how many of those paths we would prefer not to even enter, that end up being some of the best ones we travel.


  7. nightprayers says:

    Enjoyable and challenging how-to poem. Looking forward to some weather-ordained beverages myself. Right now, maybe a gin and tonic to counter the death-faced heat here.

    I like he way your list/ instructions acknowledge the gaps, the lacunae that we fill only though speech, conversation, being together and open to each other’s narratives.

    Very nice!

    • 1sojournal says:

      thanks for your comment and thought process. I agree about the drink and would certainly not say no to an Amatto Stone Sour.

      This one gave me some trouble, but I knew what I wanted to do, so just kept playing with it. I was aware of the gaps, knew they would actually be there if one should ever create such a map, and the only way to fill them is with all the rest of the story.

      Thanks again,


  8. So enjoyed how you reshaped list to become a 3-dimensional topography for often lists are peopled. The intricacy of detail lavished also works as sparing use would have flattened the mapped effect. Thank you for poem sharing.

  9. 1sojournal says:

    Happy, thank you for reading and commenting. The details turned out to be a sort of happy accident. Only realized about half way through the poem that I was using them to list the most basic choices for each detail of the map. That’s when the poem got fun, lol.


  10. It kind of opened right in front of my eye, taking me into different directions.

    tumbled thoughts in a silver tumbler

  11. Irene says:

    Thoughtfully mapped lines Elizabeth. I guess we’re all heading West. *grins hopefully*

    • 1sojournal says:

      Hi Irene, I most heartily agree with the grins hopefully, every morning and evening, as a matter of fact. Thank you for reading and commenting,


  12. neil reid says:

    Oh there’s that voice that flows so easily from you, like a river does. Very natural. It seems effortless, inviting, encompassing. A feather-touch no matter the mass. Decidedly human here too, yet neither above or below, just right in step, so tactile too. Sensuous, quietly aesthetic. It produces a map that excludes nothing, ranging far mountains yet includes all the internal geography, continuous. Beautiful!

    I want to just sit and listen listen listen.

    I love the heavy smoothed stones that begin the quest, like wilderness explores returned to whisper tales. You make a map like others might make a meal. And the many tools of words make such sustained connection here. A joy to read!

    And when the journey is complete, come full circle home, it is only to begin again. You make me glad to have had this prompt.

  13. neil reid says:

    Explorers, he of course meant to say.

    • 1sojournal says:

      And explorers she automatically read, lol, the weakness of the teacher poring through all those written offerings. Confession? Most of the efforts in the process of this one, were in smoothing down those boulders I brought back after letting my mind wonder through the possibility of doing such a thing. Which only reminds me of the smooth stones that are rattling around in my trunk, at the moment, tipped out accidently, of course, but a life-long habit of collecting sourvineirs from road trips taken. Trips that always include the thought of what it must have been like to be one of those wild explorers making such a map, each night, in front of a bonfire, surrounded by all of that wilderness.

      Thank you Neil, for your lavish praise, it is all gathered in carefully and tucked away into that box of kudos, lol,


  14. wayne says:

    nicely done… the beginning of the quest…..thanks for sharing this

    • 1sojournal says:

      Thank you Wayne, and yes, beginning the quest is one of the first marks on that map, and maybe one of the hardest choices we make.


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