The following poem by Danielle Sidi ’14, published on the Poets.org website, was written in response to “The Map” by Elizabeth Bishop (shown below). Dani’s experience in NA’s Creative Writing Workshop inspired her to take a creative writing class at Emory University, where she is currently a sophomore.
The City by Danielle Sidi
Concrete piled high on water, colored gray.
Shadows, or are they statues, creating edges
showing the skyline of tall and short images
where planes fly above with smoke colored gray.
Or does the sky act as a vacuum absorbing all the dust,
drawing it up into clouds?
Along the tops of buildings
do dreams fall like pieces of dust?
The idea of New York runs chaotic.
Bright lights and crowds of people
have tainted it. We can dream up the blurs of yellow,
under our covers as if we knew what was real,
or as if to prove ourselves we are not sheltered.
The names of taxi drivers do not exist,
Their names collected into piles of people
—just the way we are forgotten
Dreamt cities are much brighter than the real ones,
replacing lights with loud darkness:
and men run through stations in nervousness,
profiles seen and ignored, like crowds of one.
Are they oblivious, or can the people choose awareness?
–What suits efficiency best, may not always
be efficient; darkness screaming as loud as lights can spark.
More delicate than the light is the dust on rooftops.
The Map by Elizabeth Bishop
Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.
Shadows, or are they shallows, at its edges
showing the line of long sea-weeded ledges
where weeds hang to the simple blue from green.
Or does the land lean down to lift the sea from under,
drawing it unperturbed around itself?
Along the fine tan sandy shelf
is the land tugging at the sea from under?
The shadow of Newfoundland lies flat and still.
Labrador’s yellow, where the moony Eskimo
has oiled it. We can stroke these lovely bays,
under a glass as if they were expected to blossom,
or as if to provide a clean cage for invisible fish.
The names of seashore towns run out to sea,
the names of cities cross the neighboring mountains
-the printer here experiencing the same excitement
as when emotion too far exceeds its cause.
These peninsulas take the water between thumb and finger
like women feeling for the smoothness of yard-goods.
Mapped waters are more quiet than the land is,
lending the land their waves’ own conformation:
and Norway’s hare runs south in agitation,
profiles investigate the sea, where land is.
Are they assigned, or can the countries pick their colors?
-What suits the character or the native waters best.
Topography displays no favorites; North’s as near as West.
More delicate than the historians’ are the map-makers’ colors.
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