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The students submit
the same paper passed out
or draw circles in back
after I ask them to sketch an
American map from memory,

even after I say
to close crying eyes
and think for a bit
before they commit
their hand now to this,

even after I see
a lay of their land
but can’t tell if white sheets
speak hope or surrender,
blank slate or snowblind,

if black holes are the spirals
to tear us apart
or portals to save us—
sending us somewhere,
anywhere else but here.

Aaron Sandberg is mapping his memory and memorizing his maps. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in No Contact, I-70 Review, Alien Magazine, The Shore, Space and Time, West Trade Review, Asimov’s, The Offing, Sporklet, Right Hand Pointing, Monday Night, and elsewhere. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, you can see him—and his poetry posts—on Instagram @aarondsandberg.

© 2022, Aaron Sandberg 

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