Corrected Maps of your City by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans

Corrected Maps of your City
David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Kendall Evans

Every convenience store has them:
So shiny and bright,
Each street name legible,
They fold and refold perfectly
(Your first clue they are alien technology)

Behind your building, no-name alley,
You know, the one with
Piles of garbage instead of trash cans
The map calls it “shortcut alley”
You’ve never been down it
But today you think “why not?”

It shortcuts to a place quite Escher-ish
A place with arching side-up down staircases
Where climbing figures contradict
Gravity’s orientations–
A place that cannot be real

Beneath a street-lamp,
In sodium-colored light
He reads the map-legend’s fine print
“This map is self-correcting
Analogous to reality itself”
How could that be?

The street lengthens as he walks
The panorama shifts
The sushi shop occupies both sides
Of the street simultaneously
For seven blocks.
(Another clue;
The city itself, he decides,
Must be constructed with alien technology)

He is hungry,
Stops at one of the bright efficient counters
Where a petite Asian girl takes his order
The cook, behind a bamboo screen,
Seems . . . large,
And maybe he possesses
Quivering antennae
The zebra fish sashimi has hooves
But no internal organs
The rice is purple
Tastes like beef…
It’s delicious

That’s enough adventure
For one day, I decide–
But retracing my steps
I find endless vistas
Sidestreets
Shimmering curtains of
Polychromatic light
Crowds that seem increasingly
Diverse,
But what I do not find
Is Broad St., my home address
No longer on the map
Somehow shifted off the charts
Of probability

At this precise point
My Corrected Map of the City
Said to me:
“I have scanned the schizmatic breakthrus
The fractured road warrior antics
The false turnings, the inspired route deviations
And now, finally,
I am ready to accompany you
To the highest ground, the intricate afterspaces
And beyond.”

(end)

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