Labyrinth - Poem by Juna Razan
imagine you are at a labyrinth
you read about it in a book, or rather
read a book about it
or from it,
that’s not the point.
the point is that
you are in front of a labyrinth and the paths are crooked and covered with thorns
whilst the walls rearrange themselves each time you try to take a step.
you’re not a hero and this is not an adventure but imagine
you want it to be;
the story you read leads to the hidden core and you want it to tell you the ending.
a hero would fling a hammer and bring the walls down;
we know you are not a hero.
they ask, ‘if there’s a monster at the end of the path would you rather
or distract it to sneak by? ’
you say, ‘neither.’
a hero fights their way through but you,
oh, you see the heavy footsteps in the soil,
and how the labyrinth curls in around the centre,
so you kneel in the mud.
‘it must get rather tiresome standing guard here all the time; would you like to tell me about it? ’ is what you’d say to the monster and by the end of it the monster would trot behind you and eat from your
not one hero thinks to ask the labyrinth to let them in but you—
you know how it goes.
you ask about every crack in the wall,
(the trick is to forget the hammer.)
every thorn retracting at the touch of your hand is a victory.
every wall falling apart with a sigh gets you closer, and
this is not an adventure
but it feels like it.
you throw away your boots, and your toes dig into the earth, your heels sinking in.
you step lightly but still leave footprints;
they are messier this way.
your question is never ‘how’, it’s always ‘why’, it’s always a pleading ‘show me’
in a gentlest whisper.
not one hero thought to ask the labyrinth what’s the meaning of every twist and turn.
(you are not a hero.)
and, yes, the labyrinth tries to play its game on you,
leads you in circles
until every path starts winding to the centre,
springs new walls up from the ground
until all they do is
until it trembles all around you in anticipation
the innermost light pulsating in ecstasy because this is the first time someone’s
not walking through
do you know how the story goes? the hero defeats the labyrinth and emerges on the other end,
you are not a hero; you are
you reach the core and you put your hands around it.
every wall collapses.
now, a hero would think, ‘i’ve won’, but—
(see, the trick was to forget the hammer and use your fingertips instead)
—you’re elbow deep inside the well of light;
you’re not done.
imagine you heard of a labyrinth no one could solve. to you
the goal is never to walk through it’s to
isn’t that an adventure?
the trick is to make it look like you’re not trying to leave
(only heroes belong in adventures.)
a pet monster is sure exciting but every story has to end and this one ends with a torn leash
around a neck.
imagine you stood in front of a labyrinth
and the labyrinth let you in
on a secret
that if you try too hard to get people lost
you lose yourself
you look at the blazing core,
you search for an ending
but the final piece of the puzzle
is a mirror.
(haven’t you heard what they say about looking into the abyss?)
imagine you stood at the heart of
a maze of walls between which
pieces of your flesh hang
on the tips of the thorns that
imagine a hero once stood at the centre
imagine the abyss showed you a shrivelled corpse
of someone you never were.
imagine you wanted to crack a secret
but the secret cracked you open instead.
you stand at the heart of a labyrinth and
the labyrinth spits you back out.
every adventure is a narrative on transformation;
this is not an adventure,
and you are too afraid of change.
(the monster left their post, though, and the noose is in the mud.)
did you know that sometimes monsters make better
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