The Cartographer’s Last Request

The Cartographer’s Last Request

Long ago he etched the seas,
scaled distant mountains
and traversed dense jungles,
this drawer of lines,
wielding astrolabe and pen
with masterful precision.

A dust-laden mahogany desk
bears witness to his labors:
tarnished sextant,
musty gilt-edged tomes,
barren inkwell…
tools of his trade,
this dying art.

He whispers with gravel voice
and sense of urgency.
I lean my ear closer
with deep reverence,
straining to hear somber words
rise from his heaving chest.

Meet me at the point of demarcation,
stand firm on the longitude of today.
Do not fall east and wallow in yesterday
or the fruitless west of tomorrows
that may never come to pass…
for the earth belongs to the living,
not to the dead.”

He lies in the waning moon
of his fading twilight,
eyes dim in lined alabaster face,
frail ink-stained hands motionless.
The north arrow points homeward,
the mariner’s final destiny.

I gaze upon his lithographs,
finely etched artifacts,
fingers tracing serpentine
this international date line…
and my minds eye visualizes
a swim in the Indian Ocean,
trek in snow laden peaks,
verdant African rainforests.

He leaves his legacy
inscribed in parchment,
the fruition of adventure
and colorful imagination…
masterpieces of history
bearing compass rose
and an indelible watermark,
the fertile essence of his soul.

Colleen M. Breuning © 2011
January 5, 2011

Thomas Jefferson quote used:  “The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.”