Moved by a quiet cyclone, a tarp set out to dry
   on our neighbor's lawn lifts itself, gasps

and collapses, gasps and collapses.
   You lightly suggest someone check: perhaps

someone's buried alive, or perhaps something's come
   to mock our little dying acts. Eddies of light

drawn to a wayward canvas. Flecks of water
   surrendering to a draft the way that love surrenders

after cruel words – breath by breath.
   That mechanical grace that filters through the hands

and through the air when the self sees it has no choice
   but to move toward a world of symbols and prayer.

In the desert tides of Reno, and under the brooding sky of San Jacinto
   men barefoot, women in beautiful cotton skirts    

are laying down tarps like this – portable labyrinths –
   on which they'll formalize our pilgrimage from kiss to bed

to river's edge. For a path, a cruciform quadrant
   or a six-petal rose that calls up the Heart of Chartres.  

And, for the blind walk, the on-axis straight approach
   to the rose's core at the center of the mat: the mantra's

mantra.  How good they are to make a prayer life
   of the body's work. Or not goodness, but resolve, perhaps.

The same resolve that keeps us at our tasks: Saturdays
    with our chores, Sundays in garden paths

lost in the rhythm of bowing and straightening up
   assured our small cruelties are absolved from above.
Portable
Labyrinth
Copyright © 2013  M. B. McLatchey.  All rights reserved.
Published in
the Aurorean, Spring/Summer 2014.