candida moreira


“make a map,” she says
and already i am lost.
i understand what's being asked;
i don't know if it's possible to make a map of feelings.
diligently i assemble a list of parts:
                       title, scale, orientation, legend, border.
it's a representation of something
                                              or of some place
                                                                    in relation to
                                                                               some other thing or
                                                                                          some other place.

start simple i hear myself say.
use a title to identify location, purpose, themes
unmappable!! my brain offers up,
delighted by its own rebellion, and
                                   the rest spills out of me
                                   faster than i can decide where to put it
                                                                                            or what to put it next to.
authoritative and dramatic my mind passionately insists
                                                     there is no container for feelings this expansive 
                                                           no scale that will help an observer understand
                                                           the real world measure of my intensity.

before i can respond
a part of me sneers;
and tells me that i am too self-absorbed and
                                                                                                                            s p a c e .
she tells me
                      i’m obnoxious to even consider
                                                        mapping it out.

another part insists that i
must make a map –
                                  a map that helps others who are lost find their way.

welcome to the land of double binds and paradoxical feelings!
                                                                                              my mind announces
                                                                                              taunting me.
in this place
                                                         up means down
                                                         and go means stop
                                                         and the compass cannot choose

i do not know how to make a map                               of being in two places at once.

what topography can i use 
to represent infinite directions and
                                   immeasurable depths?
how can I accurately delineate a landscape
that is both undulating
and             in            a          straight         line?
what legend will decode this lushly barren terrain?

i do not like borders and
                       lines: i only ever want to colour outside of them.
i want to show you
and draw you (in)
and i want to help you understand
how and why and where and when
                                                         my feelings populate
                                                                                and take up
                                                                                space inside me.
i want to teach you how i use them
and how they help me to find my way
even when i don’t know where i’m going.


candida moreira is a portuguese-canadian writer, therapist & tedx speaker who thrives at the intersection of language and feelings. she is passionate about smashing stigmas and encouraging folks to move through the world owning all of who they are. she has a knack for complicating things, colouring outside the lines, and taking the scenic route. her poem “covid pants” was recently published in the things they wrote, a community project featuring healthcare workers put out by ROOM: A Sketchbook For Analytic Action. you can connect with her at or on IG @thefeelingswhisperer

Skip to content