The custodian’s finished  
repainting the faded  
U.S. map  
on the school playground.  
The flat shapes of states  
where I‘ve lived  
are each a different color.  
Why is North Carolina maroon,  
and Washington green?  

My sandals slap  
the trail of the pioneers.  
I name each state  
as I step into it,  
being careful  
not to touch  
any edges.  
Scurrying ants  
scorch in the summer sun.  

In Alabama, a dandelion  
pushes up  
through a crack  
in the surface.  

Part of the ocean  
around Long Island  
is colored in,  
but Florida is bordered  
by gray water. 

Alaska is half-way to the swing,  
while Hawaii floats  
on the horizon  
in eddies of asphalt.  
There is a black line  
around our country,  
to distinguish it from  
the flat, specked pavement beyond.  

Copyright 2000, Roberta P. Feins 

Roberta Feins wishes for a more perfect world in which to write better poetry. A recovering pessimist, she is learning to live in the here and now. Here is Seattle, and now is computer consulting, helping with Switched-on Gutenberg, and working on several manuscripts.