Family Tree
by Jack Sullivan

How do you draw a map? Let me tell you:
Carve the central city nearest the face. The eyes
Will you tell you which way to look, whether
Into the heart of the Son, or away towards the greenery.

Allow outlying islands to accumulate. Smear
Aunts and uncles down the nose, tributaries of blood
Conquering the landscape, with its little niches,
Nieces and nephews running into the nostrils and mouth.

Reach out for corners of the Earth that aren’t yours.
Place cousins, great-grandparents, and family friends
Where they can’t be seen; where you’ll find them
One day after you’ve hoped to God they’ve gone.

Forget how much you’ve drawn. Wonder if
You should stop and think about your progress. Is it
Too much to ask the model, though, to sit still,
to let the full scope of history run its course?

When you finally finish, find that you
Don’t recognize the stunned canvas that stares back.
He won’t believe in himself, either. He’ll realize
How his skin crawls with names that aren’t his own.

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