The Map

The maps of death get better every day –

Young draughtsmen use a scale of one to one

With instruments that speed across a page.

So there’s no need to hang around old graves

In black jeans, looking for a shady deal:

A simple map will tell you all you want.

You’ll find a dozen in your corner shop.

I’ve heard it takes two trees to make each map,

Upsetting the environment, they say,

But people barely wait until they’re home,

Unfolding sections on their lounge-room floor.

‘Now where’s the legend?’ Father thinks aloud,

‘Until we find the legend,’ he expands,

‘We can’t tell if it’s right-side up or not.’

It spreads into the kitchen, covers beds,

Then flaps out on the mail-box and the lawn…

Its creases are as sharp as Father’s shirt.

‘Beats me,’ says Father, taking up his pipe

And rattling silver as he walks away.

‘There’s Uncle Harold!’ Mother points, then goes

To make some coffee while the children stare

And play at generals, sticking in small flags.

‘We’d best put it away now,’ Mother says,

‘Before Grandfather comes to see the kids.’

But already they’ve forgotten how it folds;

They try this way, then that. The map is vast

And all the neighbours help, but it won’t close.

Kevin Hart

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin Hart.

Additional information

Reprinted kind permission of the author and publishers from Kevin Hart. 2002. Flame Tree. Sydney: Paper Bark Press.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hart, K. The Map. Bioethical Inquiry 6, 349 (2009).

Download citation


  • Public Health
  • Corner Shop
  • Small Flag
  • Shady Deal