That the Science of Cartography Is Limited, by EAVAN BOLAND


--and not simply by the fact that this shading of

forest cannot show the fragments of balsam,

the gloom of cypresses,

is what I wish to prove.

When you and I were first in love we drove

to the borders of Connacht

and entered a wood there.

Look down you said: this was once a famine road.

I looked down at ivy and the scutch grass

rough-cast stone had

disappeared into as you told me

in the second winter of their ordeal, in

1847, when the crop had failed twice,

Relief Committees gave

the starving Irish such roads to build.

Where they died, there the road ended

and ends still when I take down

the map of this island, it is never so

I can say here is

the masterful, the apt rendering of

the spherical as flat, nor

an ingenious design which persuades a curve

into a plane,

but to tell myself again that

the line which says woodland and cries hunger

and gives out among sweet pine and cypress,

and finds no horizon

will not be there.

From “In a Time Of Violence” by Eavan Boland. (Norton: $17.95.) 1994 Reprinted by permission.