Douglas Goetsch


Walking a Labyrinth

Eleanor, who is driving

me to the Atlantic

City bus station,

asks if I wouldn’t

mind stopping

at a labyrinth

in Longport she hates

to pass. Outside of

mythology, or The Shining,

all I know of labyrinths

is that you’re supposed pola white shot

to walk them, slowly.

This one is painted:

white lines

on green asphalt.

Feel yourself emptying,

she tells me

as we meander in,

the countless switch-backs

relieved by long arcs

that deliver us

into new quadrants.

An Hispanic woman

and two little boys

have joined us, but

the boys soon lose

patience, and cut to

the circle in the middle,

where they shove one another

like sumo wrestlers.

When we arrive, I’m not

sure if I’ve accomplished

anything. I look over

at the Church of the Redeemer,

which is closed, feeling

quietly mocked.

On the way out, Eleanor

tells me, you’re supposed

to fill yourself with aspirations,

things you want in your life.

That strikes me

as a little greedy —

though I would like

to make my bus.

Eleanor would like

her Bahá’í divorce

to be over with,

the year of living alone

and dating nobody

but her husband.

It becomes hypnotic,

retracing the turns,

the painted lanes…

I look up

and see my mother,

whom I haven’t

seen in years,

treading innocently

as anyone

while walking a labyrinth,

or folding laundry,

or driving a child

to the doctor.

You could try

to figure it out,

the pattern of it all,

But it might

be better just

to walk it, slowly.

About my only indulgence

my only indulgence

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