for W. R. Backer
As a baby, I slapped the globe until it creaked
for the pure pleasure of spinning.
I flattened tangerine peels and learned how
canoe-shaped segments cloaked a sphere.
In school, there was a mechanical model
of the solar system, but the crank was stuck.
I asked my father which way the earth
revolved around the sun: clockwise or counter?
I needed to picture how the planets moved.
My father replied: “That depends where you are.”
His answer threw me
into the Milky Way of vantage points.
If Antarctica tops the planet, all continents point up.
Africa changes from cashew into comfy chair.
South America is no longer an ice cream cone
but the wing of a landing swan, the bosom
of Australia becomes a ragged, double-bottomed heart.
The National Geographic map cut Asia in half,
positioning where I lived in the center of the wall.
But the world was not flat, and I lost certainty
in what was left and what was right.
Where was I?
Was outer space dark or dazzling?
Winner of the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award, Sara Backer’s hybrid chapbook of essays and poems, Bicycle Lotus, is forthcoming from FootHills Press. Her poems recently appeared in So to Speak, New Welsh Reader, Crannóg, Gargoyle, and The Pedestal Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @BackerSara or sarabacker.com.