Friday, December 4, 2009


I need you to pay attention

Lean in close and examine every word. The letters

have been sewn with thread.

Follow the thread, it leads you

deeper to a cold and frightening place

but do not stop. Crawl, if you must

Face to the floor, listening to things flapping overhead,

searching for you.

They are the guardians of this room

but you must not stop.

Crawl. Keep the thread between your fingers and scrub

your flesh against the stone

you will shiver

you will cry.

Keep going.

In the labyrinth, they say, there is a Minotaur.

Do not stop.

They say that it was once a man, or maybe it is only part of one.

You don’t know, you’ve never seen it.

But the villagers whispered of it.

Inch by inch you will shiver and mewl along the path

The threads will take you deeper.

It will be hard- your palms will sweat.

The cold damp dark does not end.

After a time, the flapping sounds may stop. Maybe they sleep,

Or maybe you’ve passed through their realms.

You will not be able to see, yet.

You may try to stand.

Maybe you will keep crawling, hands and knees,

afraid. You’ve been cold for so long.

Please do not stop.

You’ve never been this deep before.

It is too quiet. There is nothing to stop the memories.

This may be worse than the flapping sounds

of god-knows-what above you, seeking your flesh.

The voices you hear are cruel

whimpering lashing gnawing lies

But they feel so true.

You have been cold for so long.

The creatures sleeping behind you

were better than this,

you think. And maybe they were.

Do not stop. The threads are still there.

In the labyrinth is a minotaur,

it is huge and awful,

the way only fairy tales monsters are.

Once someone saw it, and lived.

But it was so long ago, that no one is sure

what is real, anymore.

How did you come to this place?

You listened and followed the threads

that slithered like snakes from the dark

and stitched you up like a patient

etherized upon a table

The threads you follow,

That hurt as you walk,

you realize they are wet and warm in your hand

But you have been cold for so long-

There are voices in your head,

the memories that hurt,

they are slopping out of you like guts

like a patient whose stitches have come loose.

You understand now why the threads are warm.

Pieces that were a part of you are falling out

splashing on the stones

Do not stop. Keep crawling.

You may be weeping

but you do not need to see

Follow the threads.

You feel it in your chest,

the bindings which kept you whole

are coming loose.

There is nothing to stop the voices.

There is nothing to hold you together.

Do not stop. The threads are still there.

You remember being wrapped tightly

and told that if you were,

the minotaur would not get you.

They lay you down and strapped you tight

and began to sew.

It was terrible. It hurts now like it did

that first aching hour of needles and threads,

no child should endure.

Everyone, they said, has been sewn together like this.

It will keep you safe.

When you walked with a limp,

They all wondered why. When you curled with a hunch,

they all wondered why,

out loud, to each other, the same hands

that held you down

and punched iron through flesh

the same hands that strung the needles with thread

They all wondered why.

You are afraid to move. You cannot stop sobbing.

The noise of it will draw down the monster,

you are sure. But you cannot stop weeping.

they never did give you anything

for the pain. Not at first.

And then all there was was numbing

against the hunch, against the limp,

the hobbled legs and crippled back

They told you there must be something wrong with you.

still, they slipped you herbal teas

and you slept.

How did you get here?

You followed the threads

Do not stop. They are still there. They will take you deeper.

You may not want to keep going.

You feel so raw. As if every needle hole was fresh

You may want to run, hobble tilt, towards the opening

but you cannot tell where it was.

Do not stop. There is more.

And that’s what frightens you most.

You could not see what fell out of you

when you pulled the stitches loose

but it sounded so wet. And you hurt so much.

Do not stop.

They all told you not to wander far

keep close to home and hearth

the fires will keep the monsters at bay

and they handed you another cup



You slept.

You may rest, there in the dark.

But do not linger. There is more. There is

So much


The threads tug a little at your hand,

As if there is something on the other end

drawing you in. You are so afraid.

But you have come this far

And if the minotaur were to eat you?

Well, that would be an end, wouldn’t it?

You stand.

The threads are dry and slip through your calloused hands easily.

There is tension at the other end, and you can walk now,

Quickly, even, towards it.

There is light curving around a stone bend. The threads lead you to the heart of the maze,

Where there is warmth, and light. You shiver

Some more, as you warm, and as you steady yourself

For death.

The heart of the labyrinth is round, circled by torches. In the center is a rug,

Hand woven

That looks familiar. There is no minotaur. That you can see.

There is only

a child.

A boy.

He is afraid of you. You are afraid of you

Covered in grime and tears and snot

But you will not look down to see what fell out of you

It would be too awful.

The boy holds the strings in his hands.

He is relieved to see you.

He weeps with the abandon of childhood.

You do, too.

You speak of many things with him. He is smart,

for a child.

There has been terrible pain

In getting here

But when you ask him about the minotaur

He is surprised

And tells you that it is he.

You laugh and say

The minotaur is a monster

With iron teeth

And a voice so loud you can’t think

Arms so strong they crunch your bones

So you can’t walk

Breath like a sleeping poison,

So you can’t get away.

The boy laughs and says he ran away to hide from that monster. Here,

In the labyrinth. Where it is safe.

But he couldn’t go too far

Because of the threads

What threads?

The ones they used to sew me up. I couldn’t go away, he said,

So I went in. And then the cave got longer and longer

Until it was a maze. And I was very lonely.

He puts the threads down, as if they were snakes, and walks to you.

When you look down at him, you cannot help

But see yourself.

There are no gaping wounds, nothing

Horrible to see. The holes where the threads once were are healing,

Even now.

You see that your legs are straight, and with one hand, you touch

Your back, unbowed.

You are whole.

The boy runs to a chest you did not see before

And opens it, and asks you

for your help. You are so much stronger than he.

Inside is a sword, blade unmarked and gleaming.

A hero’s sword,

You say.

The boy shrugs. You can take it if you’re going to leave.


There are monsters along the way. He says, and points to the door

Of the heart of the labyrinth

Where you suffered and wept and fell open

And instead of darkness

You see the doors of all the villagers standing open

And they are afraid.

The maze is gone, and there is sunlight on the boy’s face

For the first time

In many many years.

On the wall, where you never noticed it before,

Is a glass, and in it you see

A man

He is tall, and strong looking,

You think he must be quite a hero

A real slayer of monsters,

But when you ask the boy about it

He looks into the glass, and says

I see myself.

You ask if there’s a shield for this sword

And he shakes his head.

You don’t need it anymore.

You tell the boy he should come with you

And he says he can’t

Because the monsters will eat him. When

They are all gone

He says, I will be able to visit you.

Outside the heart of the labyrinth,

You see the doors of all the villagers standing open

And they are very afraid.

The sunlight is blinding after all this time in the dark.

You go towards it.

You can hear the villagers screaming.

They will stop, soon.

Very soon.

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