The Direction of Escape (2022)

A Not One of Us special web publication


by Sonya Taaffe

for R.B. Lemberg

I got lost in the map of an imaginary country.
The Baedeker told me to look for the palace of government
and I found my great-grandmother
renouncing the head of a state that was never hers.
Lonely Planet mentioned the chestnut-leaved fountains
and I met my doctor’s grandparents
hiding by the roads they had sheltered strangers on.
Atlas Obscura catalogued a karst of flooded quarries
and I discovered the ghosts of my friend
fiddling krekhtsn to the accompaniment of airstrikes.
What routes lead safely out of history
when the map crumples ever tighter,
creasing the borders of fairy tale until they fray?
How infinitely we accept
the rights of imaginary countries,
sovereign without constitutions or closed skies.