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!
Without a thread
I followed you.
Lovely game. This way and that.
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
smooth as a snake.
You must be chasing other maidens.
I pinch the skin under my arms
to test time. Soon there will be
nothing but bone.
In a dream, I lick your calloused
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.