Paper, please: Ode to a Genuine Map

[Re-blogged from Sometimes , first published October 9, 2015.]

One of the things I quite enjoy and sorely miss is a Map,
a good old fashion paper map in a neatly-folded packet…
never mind that it opens easily, but defies return to its jacket.

Assuming a set of highway coordinates– say 77 and 211,
a North or a West or the name of a city,
a paper map illustrates orientation in words and symbols
helpful and geared to simplicity.

Spoken directions–out in the boondocks
may be  clear to a resident but like mud to a stranger
who needs good direction to get where he’s going.
it won’t help him to look for a “guy mowing” a field.

Clearly murky and  useless advice
“turn left at Jim Handy’s place, over the creek,
then right at the big Chestnut  tree (or it may be an Elm…)
about a mile, or two, where the old well used to be.”

At a four-way junction there is no function to say
“a drug store on the corner”– an ambiguous term
which is not helpful at all for Right or Left…
and East or West can be clearly obscured
when the sun has disappeared.

Much clearer indeed is direction with proper inflection–
take this way, then left, then two rights and a STOP sign,
a mile to the South and you will find
the address…a big white house with a blue barn–

Give me a good old paper map–even ripped and torn
it is  better than guessing if I will ever get where I’m going.
I don’t miss the cheerful depressing voice, which after agonizing
pauses and fear of malfunction, startles in the silence–
After twisting and turning, on an intricate quagmire of unlikely paths:
“This is NOT your destination.”


16 thoughts on “Paper, please: Ode to a Genuine Map

  1. We had a really bad experience with a GPS unit on the Boston Turnpike. Went through the same toll booth six times till the toll taker finally asked if we were having trouble and told us how to get off — GPS units weren’t reliable, he said, because the roads of the turnpike are layered one on top of each other! I wonder if a map would have been possible to find for THAT mess of road? Great poem!


    1. like so many of my kids and friends… My friend named hers”Millie” and she works like a charm…it’s all in the setting I guess. I can never set my GPS.


      1. one of my cousins in Pennsylvania used to work with orphan kittens and another person I know did photos of animals at the APL center in Pittsburgh and they printed up some note cards for sale.. Those centers are just over-run though.


  2. I love a paper map also. I was travelling from one quilt shop to another last summer. I got to a T intersection. GPS told me to go left then had me going down a myriad of farm-to-market roads. My destination was on the right about 1/2 mile from the T intersection…if I had turned right instead.


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