Literary Arts | Read Local Sunday

Natalie Taylor

READ LOCAL SUNDAY is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. 15 Bytes regularly offers works-in-progress and/or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction and memoir.

Today we feature three poems from Holladay-based Natalie Taylor, author of the poetry chapbook Eden’s Edge (Finishing Line Press), and winner of first place in the 2016 Utah Original Writing Competition. Taylor’s work has appeared in Rock & Sling, The Helicon West Anthology, and elsewhere. She will appear with poet Paisley Rekdal, Poet Laureate of Utah, at 15 Bytes’ Read Local reading series in January.

The following poems are from her manuscript-in-progress, Past the Minotaur, a contemporary retelling of the Greek myth.

Read, sip, enjoy!

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Maiden 1

Without a thread

I followed you.

Lovely game. This way and that.

Musk down

this dank corridor,

rat skull snaps under foot.

Shadow shrinks on the wall,

you must be this way. So I go.

Stone on three sides

above, below,

smooth as a snake.

You must be chasing other maidens.

Chase me.

 

I pinch the skin under my arms

to test time. Soon there will be

nothing but bone.

 

In a dream, I lick your calloused

hands. Wait.

Strain to hear

you lean a horn to wall

etch a dusty line toward me.

I swallow and rise,

hands flat on the wall,

inching foot by foot until

it turns this way.

And then that way. And here,

light slices through

stone and I imagine

the sea, and the sun

lights my bones,

and I smell fresh as a whale.

And that is enough

to keep me going.

And then, you are here

black hair curls over the

ridges of your extensors,

you reach for me—

bulging veins a map to ruin

 

I follow. Find a single coarse

hair from your tail. Roll it between

my thumb and forefinger

until my loins ignite.

*

Youth 2

 

Above

When I was young, I could fit in small spaces.

When my brother was young, he was soft.

I threw stones for him.

 

He dug trenches in the earth with chubby fingers as I fed him sardines

and olives and sang lullabies our mother sang to me.

 

He bellowed when I hid. I brought him a racket of daffodils, oriole’s egg.

 

Below

The maze is ribbed with neon bones glowing

orange and green. Feeble light shines on smiling wolves.

 

I do not know how long I will be

buried alive in this deep dark.

 

Dirt moons my fingernails. Close enough to smell the minotaur’s breath. Rotten,

like giving up.

 

Like being given up.

 *

Youth 7

Dawn’s last bat flaps over a night-wet path.

 

A high branch creaks.

An owl cries.

The forest beats: It is safe. It is not safe.

 

Leaves, radiant underfoot, levitate

like a magic carpet over stones

 

rising like skeletal camel humps from sand

or a row of molars lined crag to crag.

 

Large mammals rise from shaggy dreams

moving towards blue, a thin stream. Away from me.

 

Death is waking to a different story.

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Natalie Taylor was named a 2017 Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer: Poetry. Her poem, “Last Day of July,” published in Ellipsis: Literature and Art, was a co-winner of the 2000 Academy of American Poets Contest. Follow her blog, Eden on the Edge.

READ LOCAL SUNDAY (formerly Sunday Blog Read) is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. 15 Bytes regularly offers works-in-progress and / or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and memoir.

2 replies »

  1. Yes, Jim, isn’t it though? Words and images to dream on. These Sunday excerpts so often send me out for the whole book — and here is another I find I must have. Natalie Taylor has a richness to her work, and a mystery, that is irresistible. Maybe it will be available at the January reading? Thank you, 15 Bytes.

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