Mapmaker

I.

It is the last unexplored wilderness, the heart.
There have been notable expeditions of discovery:   
remember Cervantes, the Spaniard who first reached the 
southern edge and Shakespeare, 
the Englishman who first circumnavigated.

In the early days there were balloon overflights
by the Russian, Dostoyevsky and Goethe, the German.
Then there was Conrad who attempted to enter 
the heart of darkness scouting the deep country beyond 
human knowledge.

Brave souls like Joyce and Faulkner skirted the coast
following the rivers into the interior,
seeking the elusive forest dwellers, naked truths,
who occupy the headwaters 
of the Stream of Consciousness.

Most recently, a team led by Hemingway and FitzGerald
set up a base camp for a daring, if ultimately 
unsuccessful, push to scale with rope ladders the 
impenetrable escarpments surrounding the plateaus 
hidden high among the clouds. 

And now  who will be the next great writer
exploring the vast unknown wilderness?
Who will dare to reach the deepest part, 
documenting the infinite boundaries 
of the human heart?

II.

We see our hero, a cartographer by profession,
a lost soul by act of fate, disembarking
from his canoe at the base of The Falls of Innocence,
looking up as the cascades celebrate his insignificance.

At this point the native bearers desert him,
leaving him stranded with the accumulated baggage
of his unlikely journeys and he is faced
with the daunting task of selecting only those items

which he can carry alone into the uncharted depths,
the high country above the falls, the landscape
never seen by western eyes, a mystery
whose solution involves the risk of almost certain death.

Pay attention to his choices for he must travel light:
he carries only the courage of his conviction, 
an open mind,
a purity of conscience, a sense of wonder, 
a questioning eye, his blank sketch book, 
his sextant and compass, the calipers,

the French curves, the tools archaic and arcane,
so useful as he bends to the task of observing
the wild vistas beyond the limits of his experience
and mapping the unknown details of the dark continent 
of the human heart.

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