Map of the London Underground / Painted on a Miniature Cocktail Tray

From my room I retrace the intricate lace of maps,
trails of saffron and blue. I begin my story

anywhere, pull a thread of burnt sienna
to the Elephant and Castle,

or travel a Circle to the Barbican.
The world submerged makes sense to me —

the scent of a man’s Cadbury, the sound
of a voice asking please do not leave

I savor the place names of stations I have dreamed.
It’s what isn’t here that interests me.

How this trinket tray adores deception —
provides a legend to the Angel,

a lover for the Piccadilly train.
How this late 20th century souvenir

keeper of beach glass, tea bag, one tiny bell
creates more than any cartographer would tell.

I lean toward a stranger, grey eyes reading
mine before the doors next open, slightly

close, before we rise and go —
past a young girl offering Puccini

by the escalator’s puddled edge —
past travelers, erotic and unknown.

How we must forgive a map its half-truths,
its absent streaks of grief,

and arrive in a back-lit glance
to where time for one moment rinses clean.