It came to her as a child, the need for outlines.
She saw edges between things and no things,
loved boundaries, was bored by what they held.
That was the beauty of maps. On tracing paper
she impressed coasts, marvelled at the shapes.
For a while her style was carefree. Pebble-smooth,
the ear of East Anglia offered no resistance.
But the fingery inlets of Scotland fought back –
cliffs fierce with guano set her pencil to slow,
she knew with just one slip thousands of caves
and seabirds would be lost, smudged out,
leaving only a caricature of things so great
her pale wrist ached with the burden.
Under the droop of nightfall she dreamt of borders
between lands, some fading like horizons in a storm,
some slicing through countries like cheesewire
and guarded with lights, others just wide, wide rivers
where boys stare from the opposite bank.
First published in The North 49
Robin Houghton is a social media communications consultant, trainer and writer based in Lewes. Her poetry has appeared in a range of magazines including The Rialto, Agenda, The North, Iota, Poetry News and Mslexia. She won The New Writer 2012 Poetry competition (single poem category) and was commended in the 2012 Poetry Society Stanza Competition. Her how-to manual, Blogging for Creatives, was published in 2012. Robin blogs at Poetgal