It examines a world map with incremental care, noting the map’s colors and the placement of its text, drawing associations in its forms. From the poem’s first line—“Land lies in water”—to its last—“More delicate than the historians’ are the map-makers’ colors”—she echoes the questions in First Lessons in Geography and depicts herself as the mapmaker of the poet she would be.

…Chiefly because the describer, as much as she might strive for invisibility, is never absent, and poetry and geography create more than they record. Description is a collection of concrete details that privileges a generative subjectivity: one vantage, one interpretation.

…There is the phenomenon while reading Bishop similar to her description of the experience of reading Charles Darwin: “one admires the beautiful solid case being built up out of his endless, heroic observations, almost unconscious or automatic—and then comes a sudden relaxation, a forgetful phrase, and one … sees the lonely young man, his eyes fixed on facts or minute details.” The forgetful phrase, the sigh, the moment when the mask slips—these lapses carry enormous weight. They are when the world of the description is revealed to be distinct from reality, because the world of the description is contained to the mind of one lonely subject.