LUXEMBOURG

In the spring, among the flowers,

The world itself now newly towers-

Not the globe which Galileo knew,

But the flatter map Mercator drew:

Mountains, the Manila Trench, Paris,

As linear as any sea-

Hundreds of assembled prints

Imprinted with the continents,

The wear and tear of foreign travel

In perspective on the gravel-

An intercontinental trip

Now a schoolgirl's hop and skip,

The vasty deep so infinite

Now traversed in a just a minute,

Magellan's ocean, once so great,

A breeze to circumnavigate, 

Providing for the sedentary viewer

The traditional grand tour

With a minimum of cost

And small chance of getting lost

As long as he is careful not to stub 

His clumsy toe on any urban hub

And create from his inept intrusion

Later on the dim confusion

Where a moment's carelessness

Causes our antithesis. 

Explorers haven't much to lose

Unless you count of course their shoes:

A false step by one impulsive boot

Could soil our planet: Don't Pollute

(The objective being not to trust

Earth with earth, or dust with dust):

 

We must tour the globe like barefoot satyrs

According to its world's creators,

 Who leave us signs that clearly presage

The worldly authors' hidden message:

Jumping, dancing is forbidden,

Lest enthusiast by guilt be ridden,

But in its place our feet vacation

And step out on any nation,

Causes and events entwined

By the tourist and the tour combined,

Drawing morals from the black terrain 

By a soldier lurching over Spain;

The Japanese in matching clothes

Taking pictures of their toes;

Descending on the tiny Falklands:

Large Chileans with their Walkmans;

A Swedish tanner like a buoy

Anchored of Tahiti Nui;

A ballerina stretching over Thailand;

A mother waving from an island-

The flat globe filled with commentaries,

Like sleeping cats on the Canaries.

What's the purpose of such preening

Without a supplemental world of meaning?

Students saunter blindly on it.

A gloomy poet writes a sonnet,

Our soul's geographic basis

Put exactly in its places:

As an intrepid infant trader

Stumbles on the blue equator;

His parents tiptoe at the poles,

Our future written on their soles,

As it seems the whole intention

In fashioning this one dimension,

Instead of looking at the ground

And guessing that it might be round,

Is once again to make it flat,

And raise a rounder world from that.

 

Rue de Varenne

May 30th, 2000

 

NOTES ON LUXEMBOURG