Next to the Compass Rose

Done, the map is obvious.
The landmarks are the only ones
we could have chosen:
the rock shaped like a rabbit
not the one shaped like a dog
this river
which is somewhat larger than that creek
which does not appear
on the final version anyway.

It is evident to anyone
the swamp must be avoided
(the swamp, you see, is here)
the slope of land as you approach it
is a warning sign.

as we have clearly marked
there is no water.

And out here at the edge
next to the compass rose
we note that there are dragons
who eat
(we also note)

You roll it up
remark the clarity
and the straightforward route
from here to there
and ask

(holding the unknown
made familiar
hard fought onto parchment
in four colors of ink
laid down by us
and by those others
who did not return)

what took us so long
and why we erred
so often
and at such cost
and with so many losses.