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The Scale by Which the Mapped Concerns the Map

1.  We are the map’s

icons, the clot-

black or gray hyphen-

lines, the capital’s

isolate circled star.

The key

boxed underneath

in the smallest font will tell

us exactly what it is we mean

to stand for.

2.  Is there no difference

between a legend

and a key.

We’ve never known

a scale of more

than one to one,

imperceptible dis-

proportion. . .

3.  And here we are again, self-within:


aliased and atlased.

4.  Without its scale, the map’s

a sumptuary object,

quarter-inch a thousand miles, a yard a sliver

of off-green.

I’d chart your inwardness but where’s the key.

The scale-pan’s weight subtractable from the measure.

5.  If the scale is an arrangement of our notes

and what’s left inaudible between them

6.  As diagnosis

is to disease,

so the map’s

legend, to the mapped.

7.  All we do, Libra, is practice

at our scales,

finger the frets

toward some unlearned nocturne’s diminishment, its flats.

8.  Will the key


everything on the mapface that’s been

inscrutably abbreviated?

9.  Legend is to history as map is to its legend.

10.  We’ve grown

so tired of persistent direction—

is there still some way

to unmap

each other that

the scales

might fall from our eyes?

11.  Then say

to me something

I can’t expect, or negotiate-

against, or boundary-draw:

draw me a map wherein

no legend’s

legible, or needed.

from TheophobiaFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2012
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Bruce Beasley Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.