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BOOKS & THE CULTURE Where I Work Is Your Street although, each day around noon as small kids twist in ropes and a siren clips the tops of maples, it’s mine too. I wear a coat but no watch, eat my lunch on a bench in the middle of the playground: spray paint, wooden towers, the perfect diamonds of link fences. I haven’t seen you by the copper beech or among the men without jobs who find shade enough to laugh, leave cans and sharp bottles. You aren’t on the asphalt, bright with scalloped glass and boys shouting, shooting rainbow jumpers. This bench has iron feet. I have bologna and cheese. The longer I sit the further I move from what I know, which is nothing of you, or the wind filling the whittled grooves of obscenities and hearts. Bon Voyage Beginner’s luck is the best hope I can muster in Navigator a board game rife with famous explorers, treasures, serpents lurking in uncharted waters. It’s her invention, this game. She’s drawn a map and compass, seven continents, various trade routes shoelacing the deep, cerulean seas; made the smooth bowls of walnut shells into ships; turned toothpicks, paste and colored paper into tall sails. I’m the parent on parents’ day, eager as she explains who rolls when, who asks what, how to earn points, how to squander them. We sit on the edge of our chairs ‘ , my daughter, three friends and I, and plan our strategies now that Pizarro’s racing Columbus and Columbus is racing da Gama who’s hot to challenge Cabot for furs or for spice, Marco Polo. Out of Lisbon, I tack south, southeast down the Ivory Coast; the seas are gentle; my responses quick and lead commanding. I know that Greenland isn’t green, that Drake outfoxed the Armada, the elusive fountain Ponce de Leon’s foil. Sails fat with wind, my confidence high as the crow’s nest, somewhere around the Cape it goes bad. I miss question after question Henry the Navigator, Eric the Red, what season the monsoons, what direction latitudinal lines. I’m in trouble. The ship’s caught in a net of spidering coral, the oranges are black as roaches, and scurvy’s turned to fever. Eyes mad with sun, the crew won’t stand for much more. I’ve lost time, thirty points and the last of my chance cards. My daughter says I’ve got ten seconds to answer: Who built the Nina and the Pinta, but not the Santa Maria? Give my cut to the cook, these letters to my wife. Boys, she’s all yours. Thom Ward WHOM WARD’S POEMS have appeared in many journals, newspapers and anthologies, including the Atlantic Monthly, Yankee, Tar River Poetry, Chelsea, and the Christian Science Monitor. His manuscript Small Boat With Oars Of Different Size is looking for a publisher. He is marketing director at BOA Editions, Ltd., in Rochester, New York. Rochester is one of the great photography centers of the United States, and Thom Ward’s poems operate with a keenly visual sensibility. The father crouched over his daughter’s game, losing elegantly, or perched on a lonesome lunchtime bench in the wind, are both striking human portraits. A fine humor and reticence keeps him afloat, among the lost ships of history and the hard graffitiscrawl of the current urban wall. Where is a compass when we need it? Elsewhere, mates. And often, in poetry. Naomi Shihab Nye THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15