“Dear Atlas” by Jan Bottiglieri

Jan Bottiglieri


Of all the Titans, I would say that you’re
my fave. Your picture’s on my closet door.

Others see muscles like Missouri; I
see the blue interstate of you, a place
I can drive myself into like a root,
send shoots down into your busy marrow,

that bloody factory. I would be
the inbetween of you, Atlas, the way
you are the inbetween of Heaven, Earth:
bipolar, feet in the sweaty ocean

and shoulders prickled by the needling stars.
I love how the sky doesn’t murder us,
how even daffodils, with their big dumb
faces and skinny necks, will get a chance.

I understand it all: your igneous
skin; your melancholia, the tide
that brings boats in. With me, you’re not alone.
I feel the way you keep us on the lip

of earth beneath the lip of sky. Dear Atlas,
the others don’t see what I do.

I have a book of maps and call it You.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011

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