Guia Nocon Literary Services
GUIA NOCON Literary Services

Journal

The Teacher by Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate 2001-2003

There is that part of us that believes

we will never die--otherwise,

how could we watch so much television,


and there is the part that believes

when we die, all life will come to an end.

This is the part that storms within us

dragging its robes across the marble floor.


But what I like to believe

is that the minute I die,

the world will change into a map of the world


which I will roll up into a tube

and carry with me wherever I am going.


It could be an antique map with pictures

of sea serpents in the corners

or a huge Mercator projection,

but when I finally get where I am going

(and I have a feeling it will take days),


I will spread out the map on something flat,

and there I will study the patterns

of shorelines and boundaries,

maybe reminisce about a country I once visited

or a strait where a naval battle once took place.


I also like to believe

that there will be other beings there

who will gather around this picture of earth

so I can explain to them what it was like--


how the cold mountains rose above the valleys,

how this was called geography,

how the people from this pale blue area

crossed into the light green area to the south

and killed whoever they found there

and how this was known as history,


and as they listen, mild-eyed and silent,

others will arrive to join the circle

like ripples moving toward the center instead of away.