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217th Weekly Poetry Contest honorable mention: Which Way the Earth?

by Sara Backer

As a toddler, I slapped the globe until it creaked
for the pure pleasure of spinning.

I flattened tangerine peels and learned how
canoe-shaped segments cloaked a sphere.

In school, there was a mechanical model
of the solar system, but the crank was stuck.

I asked my father which way the earth
revolved around the sun: clockwise or counter?

I needed to picture how the planets moved.
My father replied: “That depends where you are.”

His answer threw me
into a Milky Way of vantage points.

If Antarctica tops the planet, all continents point up.
Africa rotates from cashew into comfy chair.

The ice cream cone of South America becomes the wing
of a swan, the bosom of Australia a double-bottomed heart.

The National Geographic map cut Asia in half,
positioning where I lived in the center of the wall.

But the world was not flat, and I lost certainty
in what was left and what was right.

Where was I?
Was outer space dark or dazzling?

Published in Marathon Literary Review

217th Weekly Poetry Contest