The Mapper

There’s a picture from a children’s book I really like. It’s a landscape in a boy’s figure who seems to be flying over an otherwise solid color. I have dreams sort of like this except the exact opposite. Instead, I fly as an empty figure over a landscape or the gentle curves of a mass beneath me. In this book Neftalí, later referred to as Pablo Neruda, finds refuge from his smallness against his scary dad in things like poetry. 

Now I wonder what it would be like to turn Neftalí inside out so he looks like me? Every single night I am flying over the curves and ridges and straight lines and mountain tops and treelines of places I’ve been. If I am dreaming over the ocean then I can at least see the bend of the world curling away. 

During the daytime, I am thinking about Metropolitan London and the Shining Path and the Black Arts Movement and 19th Century Romanesque Architecture and gathering a bibliography of “Female Writers of Maine” and working on my short story “The Welfare Supervisor” and saving my relationship, and rotating through my four-cycle lifts for basketball, and this is just an excuse to plan out everything I am doing…

Sometimes I’m scared to fly in my dreams. Sometimes I dread falling asleep and being obsessed with remembering the exact spatial significance of borders. I’ll be put in this semi-familiar place and force myself to remember what tree sits on the right and what house is on the left. It’s funny because the places in my dreams have sort of been hijacked by themselves. I no longer return to my college or the island as they are in real life. I return to the dream versions, slightly different and perhaps more accurate reflections of how I would construct them. But every time I know where the new spatial elements are even though they are parallel universes from reality. 

I am a map.

Neftalí is the Dreamer but I am the mapper. 

If I could draw perhaps I’d try to visually appropriate it onto paper. But just as the world from reality to dream shifts entirely I wonder if it would too with pen and ink? All I know is rain and shine, I am mapping the real world and the realer world in my dreams and I can’t seem to stop. My fingers are tired of typing, I have tendinitis in my left arm from too much time at the computer working on those lengthy essays but I find myself on a Tuesday and humid evening trying to map out the dual mapped out universes that exist in day and night. 

I am a mapper

waiting to seize the map

I spatialize the questions

for which all boundaries and expanses


I choose no place

I choose every place

Come closer…

…if you dare.

Image from The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan – Illustrated by Peter Sís.

Published by ellakotsen

student at Bryn Mawr College

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