Freud put love and work at the top of the list of indicators of mental health. I have overwhelming amounts of both. Truly, I could do without the work, though, or at least do without the kind of work that comes in my door. I neglect my duties. I'll get in trouble.
This is about a copyist in Battista Agnese's shop in Venice while they were working on the map book for Charles V. It's the little things that get you.
Here Be Lions
We don't allude to unknowns at the borders in these days.
We fill that space with cherubim, puffing away
From the twelve directions. These are in my hand,
Not in my name. Nothing of me will live. In the world
We map, that breath fills sails, never sinks a ship.
In the world I walk at night, I never fear
The hot breath of beasts at my back,
But the sweet breath of my angel beneath
The Rialto has the flavor of my death.
Few fear the winds here; as few as fear
The Pope, or the Emperor; a shrug and a smile
And they're banished. We have turned our lions to stone.
We copy the copies of copies of maps
Of lands left to others to chance, and in this repetition
Press out the mysteries and bind them
Flat into a gift for a royal son.
What I fear is each long day's squint at the page.
One thin thread of real silver runs across the map,
Tracing the route the silver in the hold travels, wrested from
What was another world. Now it is our world, all of it.
That gleaming vein, now that, it could resolve into a garrote;
One bead of blood from a scratch with the tip of a knife,
Or a rat-fed flea in my bed--any of these
Will kill me, will have me long
For the past's mercy of fangs and claws.
Image: Library of Congress.