Drawn Together Toward Earth’s Molten Iron Core by Robert Gibbons

Drawn Together Toward Earth’s Molten Iron Core

Who’s to say we’re not drawn

by the same magnetic force

as any mariner’s compass,

because something drew

me down to the docks

on March 11, 2015,

when the thaw

finally arrived

after one


& one days

over the longest

winter in recent memory,

temperature of 54 degrees

the highest since December 1st

of the year before: there, just as

suspected, sprawled out for all to see,

the massive double-steel-hulled oil tanker

Atlantic Muse out of Hong Kong, no less!

Yes, I followed the unconscious pull, as if my body

adjusted to the magnetic declination mariners

have long been aware of as their compasses

pointed not at True North, but pulled by

variations in magnetic fields according

to each location. The Muse then drew

me back toward the map I’d

recently discovered, that

finely drawn isogonic

chart of the Atlantic

by Edmond Halley

in 1701 showing

lines of magnetic

variation, the

earliest such


It’s beautiful,

as most maps are

to any eye, but here

the early science adds

precision, & even the wording

of the cartouche drawn & written

there in the right-hand corner running

west from New England & New York down

to the Carolinas square in the heartland of North

America deserves quoting: The Curved Lines which are

drawn over the Seas in this Chart do shew at one View all

the places where the Variation of the Compass is the same.

The Numbers to them shew how many degrees the Needle declines

either Eastwards or Westwards from the true North  ; and the Double

Line passing Bermudas and the Cape de Virde Isles is that where

the Needle stands true without Variation.

There, almost at that point of no

variation, Halley draws a perfect

compass rose radiating wind

points out from the exact

center of the map.

It didn’t stop there, this Muse,

but drove me hard back

toward Olson’s own

handwritten poem

known as The Compass Rose

just to see his hand there hard at work

on November 20th, 1965, showing us the way

migration leads always to a new center, as if today

with temperatures reaching a new high after a long

one hundred & one days one could reach into the center

of oneself corresponding to the molten iron core

of the Earth, which produces those variations

in magnetic fields according to one’s location.

Such declinations in one’s sailing or daily

peregrination must be adjusted to by

what some might call Mind, but

which I prefer to call Soul.

A month later, it’s no accident that Olson,

cartographer at heart, writes his next poem

in which he designates the coordinates of the island

before his eye, that light & heavy jewel, Ten Pound Island

at 207 degrees from magnetic North, intimating that she, the island,

& he, the man, feminine & masculine are linked at the center, & drawn

together toward earth’s molten iron core.

~ Robert Gibbons

Robert GibbonsRobert Gibbons, a former Gloucester resident, is the author of nine books of poetry. In 2013, in addition to completing a Trilogy of prose poems with Nine Point Publishing,  he published Olson/Still: Crossroad, a brief study concerning the similarities in approach to art by Olson in words, and Clyfford Still in paint.