Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page

Maps

Alice Major
From:   Corona Radiata. Toronto: St. Thomas Press, 2000.


That first disk of cells, held in place
like a map clamped to a table.
Fate maps, coded cartography of coasts,
unroll their silent directions.
      This to become bone.
      This to become brain.
And the disk curls into a little boat,
into a tube like the topography of origami
pleating from two dimensions into three.

      Maps have a history, an evolution.
      What was peninsula on ancient charts
      becomes island. Small continents swell,
      large extrusions dwindle. Until it emerges
      the familiar shape of a world.

And so a fetus changes. Pharyngeal arches shrink
to the delicate bones of the face. Limb buds lengthen
from rounded paddles to extensive isthmuses.

As though a child's unfolding
is less a tale of growth
than of discovery.

________
Note: Developmental biologists construct &&34;fate maps&&34; to show how early cells migrate as the embryo develops.


Alice Major's works copyright © to the author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page