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The Plat Book


ISSUE:  Fall 2008

The Plat Book

cast our farm
and neighbors’
farms as flat,

our last names
spattered across
their scant

shapes in slant
caps, our land-
scape cropped

and spiral-bound.
I found I could
leaf through

miles of ground
in a snap, from
town to town-

ship and hilltop
to millpond,
every dotted

logging lane
and back-alley
kink in plain

black ink hand-
plotted. To think
what thought’d

gone into that
odd elevation!
To me it was a

revelation that
the land could
be recorded and

recorded free
of all topography,
distorted by

the tax man’s
idiosyncratic
 iconography.

For this was
his, not our Eau
Claire County.

Ours had airy
view and hue
and landmarks,

oaks and willows
and windmills
and cattle in it.

No, we couldn’t
have survived
a minute

on that non-soil,
an O where our
 un-drawn

house and barn
and all our toil
would go.

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