Connecting With Jim Harrison’s “Mapman”

by Lauren Bennett  ·  April 21, 2016

Mapman“The mind itself is a hoax that feeds on its own fanciful stories.”

As children, some of us often pretended to be someone else. Whether it be a heroic superhero, a brave firefighter, or a poised princess, we imagined what it would be like to be another person, if only for a day. I was one of those children who reveled in the make-believe, only I dreamt of becoming a famous writer.

As I look back on the days of my childhood, I am reminded of Jim Harrison’s prose poem, “Mapman,” featured in Five Points Vol. 12 No. 2. The narrator of the poem has a different idea of imagination, however, as he imagines himself to be a member of the French Resistance during World War II. He places himself in an odd and desperate situation in which German soldiers cut off his feet, and he is forced to hide in the basement of a French bakery: “I grew too fat on all of the bread sent down to me with summer vegetables.” His only solace is found in his love of maps, and the stories they tell long after they were created. He is referred to as the “Mapman” by the people he meets.

Perhaps the fantastical is far more interesting than one’s present reality.

Jim Harrison passed away on March 26 at the age of 78.

Click here to read the full text of “Mapman” by Jim Harrison.