Poetry: Ela Thompson’s “The Labyrinth”
Mesmerizing. “Deep in the tree of my back,
I carve out a phantom limb, like an Old Testament god, I try
to make two of one.
Turn me out wretched; I cannot be the one in my dream,
I can not be of two, an Adam and an Eve,
instead I am in halves and burning for a body that I can reason with.”
My grandmother’s house was painted a dark, graying eggshell blue
and was very near the southern border of the Catskill Mountains.
After the death of my grandfather she sold the house, the barn, the many
acres of field and forest. No one was surprised.
Death contaminates the heavy rivers of our bodies
and we must move on.
Bound as we are, even as a hidden culture,
her family has spread out from that place—
a daughter in California,
a son in the Carolinas,
a son in Massachusetts,
a daughter in Wyoming
a daughter who never left
a daughter who never settled down—
like seeds on the wind,
only growing shallow roots in acidic soils.
My mother, head of black curls,
once told me that we are like the rhododendron,
which blooms large, bright, and heavy in the woods,
belonging to the far place…
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