Lacrimae

— Maggie Smith

Green dashes for grassland, brown dots
for desert, solid blue for water—

the children’s atlas is all simulacra,
from the Latin for likeness, which always

reminds me of lacrimae, Latin for tears.
That’s the rickety bridge my brain makes

over the river, or the kinked blue line
that stands for it. What a landscape

in the symbolic distance: dark green
lollipops for deciduous forest,

a cluster of black carats for mountains.
Once, doing dishes, I overheard

my children bickering about metaphysics
in the next room. The three-year-old

said, Everything is true, and his older
sister countered, Do you mean real?

When I think likeness, I think
tears—blue always for water, blue

running through and under everything.


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