Sandy Coleman and Laura Shovan

Sandy Coleman

The Map
By Laura Shovan

Inspiration piece

She emptied her son’s backpack

after the bus put up its wheelchair lift

and drove away, after she rolled him

up the ramp and through their front door.


Once there was a map in his backpack,

mirror image of the pale blue T-shirt

she had dressed him in that morning, freshly laundered,

now streaked with God-knew what.


The map of his shirt said a black smudge was finger paint

(it was nearing Halloween, his aide wrote,

they were doing spiders), green was grass from recess,

the glowing orange splotch – not a pumpkin –


Miranda “borrowed” a highlighter from the teacher’s pen jar,

drew a lopsided heart on his shoulder.

The brown was chocolate (they told Robbie

not to share his MnMs, but….)


When her son died, she thought about the map.

If he had worn a map on the last day, what would she know?

The spider and the grass, the misshapen heart,

chocolate melting on a quiet tongue.


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  1. Posted September 24, 2012 at 10:50 am | #

    Hi, Sandy. Thank you so much for this response to “The Map.” We are still grieving the death of my friend’s son, who passed in January at age 15. I know it will mean a lot to her that Grant continues to touch people’s lives.


  2. Posted September 24, 2012 at 11:24 am | #

    Hi, Laura, thanks so much. You wrote a beautiful, beautiful piece that deeply touched me. I’m so sorry for your loss. (“Sorry” is such an inadequate word.) I can’t even imagine what it feels like. Please share my condolences with your friend.

  3. Posted September 24, 2012 at 11:40 am | #

    Oh, what a heartbreaking poem. Beauty from grief–one of the gifts of poetry and art. Hugs to Laura and all touched by this life and death.

  4. Posted September 24, 2012 at 11:41 am | #

    Thank YOU, Sandy. I have already shared “Elsewhere” with my friend. It means so much to her that Grant’s story inspired your artwork.

    With gratitude,


  5. Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:59 am | #

    That something that happens when one artistic heart opens to another. What a gorgeous rendering of heartbreak. Yet there is joy in the life lost reflected here as well, the suggestion of a heart on a string, like a kite, floating far away, but never untethered.

  6. Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:16 am | #

    Annmarie, what a beautiful interpretation of this! You voiced exactly what I was hoping to convey in my work, though I could not even voice it myself. Thank you.

  7. Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm | #

    Thanks for visiting, other Laura S (!) and Annmarie. Thank you for your comments. Annmarie, I also appreciate your description of Sandy’s image. That sense of never being untethered has been very strong as my friend has gone through this year. Each holiday and birthday is the first without her son. It’s a gift to be able to share this partnership and all of your comments with my friend.