Posted: January 31, 2014 in Poetry

by Fiona Lovatt

Imagine being nineteen or twenty
Imagine being nineteen before you saw
A map of the world

That strange rectangle
That tube of a world
A flattened cylinder of names

Egypt, Niger, China, Senegal

But not the names of places
But the sight of all that water
Like blue would drown us all

At nineteen you see an island,
A continent, an isthmus, an ocean
And this is ours

This laminated sheet mounted
Colourful on the concrete wall
Of this room

This is the world they have
Been telling you about

  1. Lady Fiona, your poem is both comical (here, I mean the 4th Stanza), and intriguing.
    What a way to soften the mysterious shape and its intricate nature?

    Nice satiric poem

    • Fiona Lovatt says:

      Thank you for the specific comment you have left. I’m now reading the poem afresh to ascertain where the humour lies 🙂 The poem had been inspired by the sight of some young men poring over the first map they had been ever able to pore over: they knew many names of places. They knew about oceans. They knew the planet is a squashed egg… the map had to fit all those preconceptions.

  2. Ezeamalukwuo says:

    Lady Fiona you captured the moment of discovery…yes imagine that you were nineteen when you realise a lot of things.
    That there is an economic caste and you belong to the bottom feeders…or that there is a racial class and you are at the bottom…or something else.

    You captured the moment well, the emotional response, imagine if I were an illiterate nineteen year old who just discovered that this big wide world can easily be fitted on paper not more than my school desk…it will surely have a humbling effect on me….I think I might need a therapist (lol).
    Nice poem

  3. Anene Francis says:

    What a way to literally force a reader to go back to the past through imagination ride… wonderful. Well in my part, I don’t need to imagine much because I taught geography in a rural school during my NYSC period. You need to see the shock on the faces of the students the day I brought the globe map to class explaining that that is how the earth is. Lol… From our few travels, we know that the earth’s landmass must be very large. But when you compare its ratio with that of water bodies on the map, you can’t but marvel at the vastness of oceans. The other as Solar pointed out is “how can the world as we know it fit into a small paper lol. Ridiculous but reality.
    Good work lady Fiona

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