Thursday, June 30, 2011

Overlay (poem)

there are two towns…

The first welcomes you, a stranger;
saffron side streets like one-act plays unrolling
nothing in the expected place.
The ghost of the town you left
overlays its face, confusing
the issue further.

Every direction in new coordinates:
East by NewEast by Sudden by West;
maps tied to every venture
distance will not settle into one length.
You are not yet here, as they are
who walk so easy on untranslated sidewalks
who navigate by hidden grids.
Cafes, bookstores, groceries —
find touchstones; find the core.

Approach like a lover
and it will let you in.

The second, found under the first
when newness rubs off:
your new home town. As years etch
invisible pathways, you overlay comfort’s GPS,
your autopilot unerring
except at scattered moments, catching
a startled glimpse — scrap of first town —
the stranger-glaze showing
and you wonder how you could ever
have so mistaken it.

copyright 2011, Catherine McGuire

This poem is part of a chapbook tentatively titled, "Reflections, Echoes and Palimpsests" to be released in September by Uttered Chaos

I welcome all the bloggers and visitors from the Blue Print Review blog carnival! (note: this blog has been dormant for too long, but you can see more of me at


Sandra Davies said...

You are commenting - and so sensitively - on something I ponder from time to time, the way one's view of place evolves and how it is impossible to re-capture the unknowing. The co-ordinates are especially nice.

Dorothee Lang said...

Hi Cathy! Great that you join the carnival. I still remember your “Disconnect” poem in BluePrintReview (
Enjoyed your 2 towns, the reflection on the way places change when we get to know them. and interesting how this also connects with the post right next to yours from Brigita Orel about home and distance (

Laurie Kolp said...

Beautiful images... home is where the heart is and where it grows.

Brigita said...

I loved your poem. Like Dorothee already said, it expresses a similar sentiment to my own contribution to this Lang>Place issue, probably because I'm somewhere in between the two images of a new town that you discuss in your poem. I'm so glad I had the chance to read this, it might help me get to that second town more quickly. :)