We Need a New Map

The map we inherited
isn’t any good.
The old roads mislead
and the landscape keeps changing.
People are confused
and drift from place to place,
clothes scorched by fire
eyes red with smoke.

The old map tells us
to look for gold
in the city,
so we go to the city
and find the garbage dump.
We need a new map
with new roads
and a new destination.

Some people fear a new map, and
they cling to the old one
like flies to fly paper.
But the old map leads to pepper spray
tear gas
and the end of the world.

I don’t have a new map,
so I write stories.
The stories draw lines
dig holes
and above all, remember.
“Let people know who we are;
tell them what happened to us,”
an old Mayan woman
in Guatemala said. (1)
“I seem not to speak
the official language, “ the poet
Adrianne Rich said, so
she created an unofficial language,
the language of the heart.

Drawing a new map
is like singing.
Voicehandler asked Loon
why she talked so much
and Loon replied,
“Well, Sir, I’m not just talking
to my own ears.
The spirit-beings tell me
they have no place to live.
That’s the reason I keep talking.” (2)
Loon sings the sacred
into the world
and creates a new map.

Sing your song, friend.
Tell your story.
The map we inherited
isn’t any good.
The old roads mislead.
We need a new map.

~ Sandy Cameron

* * *

(1)   A Beauty That Hurts—Life and Death in Guatemala, by George Lovell, Between The Lines, 2000.

(2)  A Story as Sharp as a Knife—The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World, by Robert Bringhurst, Douglas and MacIntyre, 1999.

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