Ain't It the Truth Writing Contest Winner

Marcia Hurlow
Marcia Hurlow
Friday, Oct 20, 2017

The Readers Advisory committee is pleased to announce that Marcia Hurlow has won our Ain't It the Truth poetry contest for her poem Maps. We love how simply so much is conveyed and how well the poet utilizes maps to illustrate a shrinking world.

Marcia L. Hurlow is the author of six collections of poetry. Her most recent chapbook, Brushstrokes on Water, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, and her full-length collection, Anomie, won the Edges Prize at WordTech. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Nimrod, Poetry Wales, Stand, Miramar, The Iconoclast, Hawaii Pacific Review, Malahat Review and Mudfish.


Be careful what you love.
Beware of loving
bees, the underside
of maple leaves, perfume
made with wildflowers,
dogs running in their sleep,
the maze of gyri
that puzzles under the skull.

My mother loved maps.
She loved tracing the blue
lines, the red lines, looking
up the cities that bloomed
on those stems. She loved
to find their music, recipes
for food whose spices never
existed at her grocery.

She loved Dad’s stories
of towns he’d seen in Europe.
Even blighted by war
they were lovely on maps
though she’d never fly
to those gold circles,
ornate as Greek myths.
And as maps of neurons

crossed and disappeared
with age she forgot the map
of her hometown that got her
to her sister’s house, brought
her milk and bread. Off that
shrinking grid were storms
and monsters. As we talked

in her yellow kitchen,
the snow gathered like nests
in branches of the maples.
The buzz of a dying
bulb above us, I asked
about her trips to California,
Nevada and a week
in downtown Cleveland.

What a small map to travel
compared to her dreams.
So this is what love does:
reshapes thought, the last
synapses of memory. She
leaned in, confided that on
the way to Paris, she and Dad
had landed in London
just to say they’d been there.

Written by Helen H.

Fun fact: I adore furry faces.