Janitor of the Labyrinth


My quarters are centered in the middle
of the maze. Each evening, an hour
past dusk, my broom-cart echoes
into the corridor. If I keep one eye
on the right wall, the labyrinth
becomes a kind of sphere, always
turning in on itself, so
I can return to where I began.

My broom sweeps every corner
throughout the long nights. Often,
the kindly stars light my way.
But even during the blindness
of moonless, cloud-filled nights,
experience shows the way.

A lost soul or two will
wander up in the darkness.
They are always a bit terrified,
confused, often weeping. I give them
silent signals to follow.
If they complain that the sweeping
and picking-up of refuse
dropped along the aisles
is too slow, I am tempted
to lose them. But if I do,
I generally have to scour
up their fusty parts
the next evening. Sometimes,

I run into them again. They
may be angry and shout hysterically,
fingers pointing. My response
is simple—wordless, I sweep
them to the side until they
are scrabbling along the walls
behind me, the dust causing them
to cough and sneeze. They are quieter
that way, and more complacent.

Near morning, I push the broom-cart
up a high ramp, and dump it
over the side. This is a job I love.
From the rim of the labyrinth,
the landscape is endless,
like an ocean.

If stragglers trail behind me until
morning, they will see the beauty
of the sun streaming over
the tall walls—mists and rainbows
refracting, dancing. This
makes them exceedingly happy,
though the Minotaur
will be lurking nearby.

By morning, the labyrinth clean,
I always arrive safely to my door.
I go inside, eat, then sleep,
and dream of the horizon line
visible after I’ve dropped my holy
collection of filth and ugliness.
I waken to the sound
of cloven hooves on cobbles.


The Green Pear


On the sunlit sill, a green pear
begins to blush. It’s been ripening
for days. Forever. The pear
was picked too soon, for fear
it would turn to mush. But in fact,
the meat is hard as stone.

Wrapped in paper and tucked
into darkness, the cruelty
of a sour pear sweetens in time.
But this is a waste of beauty.

The pear tree grows in the foothills
where cool rains wash
the orchard clean. The grove
is like a close-knit family,
and follows the valley, as does a river.

There, the air opens to the sound of flickers
calling, a fitful knock on wood.
Sunlight sugars the pear, a ladle of luster.

Anita K. Boyle is an artist and poet just outside Bellingham, Washington, at Egress Studio. Her publications include What the Alder Told Me, The Drenched, and Bamboo Equals Loon. Boyle’s poems are included in anthologies such as WA 129 (Sage Hill Press 2017) and Ice Cream Poems (World Enough Writers 2017), and literary magazines including Clover, The Raven Chronicles, and Crab Creek Review. Her art and poetry are inspired by the natural and manmade landscape of the Pacific Northwest. She publishes handmade limited-edition books by the poets of Washington State.