I have grown used to
or at least numb to this way of living.
The rain drips through the ivy above,
hitting against the grey planks.
No water lands on my skin;
I am sprawled across the parallel lines of planks in the wooden floor.
I call this the ‘sun grotto’
because of the sundial,
now dark with rainwater,
standing in the circular clearing in the hedges
in front of the entrance to my gazebo.
Today might be a day in October. And,
since the first drop fell,
I’ve been waiting under the grotto
for what feels like hours—
I haven’t been into the maze at all today;
the darkness on the hedges mirrors
the shadows that line the clouds.
I see no point in moving
from the grotto today, and while I wait for the rain
to pass, I remember
my first day here, a few summers ago—
The humidity at noon under
a liquid sun,
a girl in a rose-colored dress,
our August trip to the hedge maze in the neighboring county,
the laugh she gave as she trotted away:
“let’s get lost in the maze—
come and get me!”
the last I heard of her,
and a glimpse of red cloth rounding the edge
of a wall in the maze,
the last I saw.
We had felt so much excitement
pressing further through the winding paths
decorated here and there with
idyllic cherub statues,
and the grottoes
which I now use as sleeping places
as cover from the rain
which pours here so often.
The downpour recedes
allowing me at least the chance to walk
through the maze to one of
the tulip gardens.
Not today of course,
but there are days when I hear
the soft laughter of children, friends, and lovers
echo somewhere in the maze—only
a few lanes of manicured green separating me
from them. Days like those
are difficult to bear.
One day, not too many weeks ago,
I heard those sounds and I smiled;
but it came as a shock to hear
the patter of a pair of running feet, so clearly just around
the clean-cut corner of the hedge I was using for shade.
It was the first—the only—time I had heard a sound in the maze
this close, close enough to see and touch—
through the pinhole gaps in the foliage-wall
I saw a burst of color, like clothing.
I shot around the corner, I glimpsed the flicker
of pale red cloth flagging
behind the form that had slid
into another path through the maze.
The chase had failed
well before I had taken my first wild steps,
hitting the well-tread path hard
with desperate feet. I yelled like a drunkard.
Later, I noticed the cuts on my fingers and neck,
sliced into the skin as I flung myself through
one wall of green and skid against the next.
Today’s shower is completely over.
I walk myself through the maze, and
avoid the shallow lakes that have formed
in the dips
in the paths, beaten firm by thousands of trampling feet.
Under the sparse autumn light
I collect flowers from one of the many small squares of garden
which I have come to know so well.
With a clump of black
and white tulips in my hands,
I look for a place to ****.
Life here is difficult in the winters.