Out of the Labyrinth
Chicago Quarterly Review, Winter 2015, issue 19 (print edition only)
In the morning the girl sits by the window,
pulling dried husks of flies off the spider web.
The brown spider drops from its corner
on a glistening, tremulous thread, hauls itself up
to inspect the damage, hairpin legs
climbing the air on invisible steps.
The girl watches it patiently mend its snare.
Each day a new pattern emerges, holes
filling with faces she knows
or dreams about, rivers she swims in, forests
she runs through. Outside the window,
her parents work in the garden,
feed the fowls, lead the ducks
and the stubborn young cow to pasture.
The girl sees the day go by, flies get trapped,
then die slowly, kicking the air in agony.
At dusk, when her weary father
bends over her raw body to carry it to bed,
her unused legs hanging over his arm
like wet laundry, she sees his old eyes
quiver like that, tangled
in an intricate pattern of wrinkles.
She dreams of her father’s eyes watching her
as she walks to the window, gathers the web
in her fist, crushes the spider with her thumb.
In her dream she walks out the door into dawn,
the path to the gate barely visible.
Shadows of trees rustle over her head.
When she reaches the top of the hill
she looks back to see the village
cradled in a valley amidst a maze of roads.
Her father’s eyes still watch her when she walks
off the road into the tall grass,
the scented stalks stroking her body,
her feet leaving no trail.