Tuesday Poem: The Cartographer's moll by Natasha Dennerstein

Sunday, 21st November, 2010




If I could draw a map of my heart,

the raw regions exposed would be

where strips of you were not wrapped.


If I could draw a map of my brain

there would be tunnels and a labyrinth

with false leads ending in you – or not.


If I drew a map of my body, those

lumps would be bite marks left by

you, my contours swollen with you.


A map of my life would be cris-crossed

with traces of you and covered in references

to you and destinations we had been.


Co-ordinates would indicate where

you had been and wanted to go and

the places where I wouldn't let you in.


That map would cover vast areas of

me and magnetic South would point to

you and I would be facing true North.


You have lain your rail-lines across

my ranges and my terrain

has been forever changed.


Natasha Dennerstein

photo by Rebecca Swan

Natasha Dennerstein was born in Melbourne of a family originating in Poland and Russia. She is currently living and studying in Wellington. She has been a psychiatric nurse for twenty years, which has given her an interesting perspective on the human condition and has been writing creatively most of her adult life.

Natasha says:

"I was thinking about colonization at a time in my life when I was thinking about love and relationships a lot. It occurred to me that the two processes have a lot in common, the invasion of one by another, the alteration in identity of the colonized. I was also looking at old maps and these ideas all converged to work out in this poem. It is a highly personal poem which I hope also transcends the personal. I like the ultimate stanza the most."

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There's a fresh, almost raw, quality to Natasha's poetry that I respond to--I love the word 'moll' in the title. Brilliant.

I'm not a critic,Natasha,but I just love the spare,wonderful metaphore you have-remarkable restraint,beautiful......I really adore that you've done it without colour,like a white page and black ink,Masterful----- you beauty....love,Zero