the hunt

by Lauren Swift

I’m thinking of growing a hedge maze, you said

I chuckled, said, oh you will never have the patience to grow
a labyrinth in that yard of yours and you said just watch

so you went and bought a shovel and hoe, started
tilling the scape and judiciously plotting the seeds in
the design you had toiled over. when the shrubs began
to rise, you tended to them cautiously, manicured them
regularly, and up they grew. I watched carefully,
pretending not to, so you wouldn’t know how closely
I tracked you as you did this thing I had so decried

one day you came to me and said, it is ready, so you
took my hand and I rose to follow you. we stood together
at the entrance, walls taller than us both, staring in
I avoided looking at you, who I had doubted, knowing
the gleam you would surely have at your rightness, that
triumph of how askew my boastfulness had been

go on, you said, with a little push to the small of my
back. you won’t come? I asked. it is my design, you said,
I have already solved it

this doesn’t go over so well for someone like me, one who
always grieves but cannot discard hopefulness—I gave you
words about parity, about how we are made to walk together,
about how if you loved me as you had so said, you
would twine your hand with mine and lead me. I despised
your useless smile, your lithe way, your gesturing arm, I wished
to throw you to the minotaur myself, let it devour you

who walks from who in these times? do we distance ourselves
equally? the one who gardens the maze knows the path but
can’t go on; the one who goes on must still believe in something,
can still contain a kind of faith. and maybe then this maze is a
mutual sacrifice, a way of persisting, together but separately,
a wretched kind of loving

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