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Clade Song 13

Landscape: Walking a Labyrinth in Natick, Massachusetts

the Native American word for “our land”

 the Native American word for “near the great hill”

Nature reigns untamed here, but for remnants
of this privatized spiral Franciscan monks,
who once graced this place, created,

and perhaps intended for me
to discover and walk its many switchbacks—
scuffed sinews twisting between hushed ferns
and ice age rocks.

A plump chipmunk burrows through layers
of events time compacted.
A spotted beetle tucks its wings,
settles like a pilgrim on my wrist.

As the sun slinks below the horizon I conjure
the Algonquins, who once thrived here fishing,
growing native corn, braiding brilliant baskets

under the same harvest moon,
just now painting its pagan face on Lake Cochituate,
glimmering like a banquet hostess
in her sequined gown.

O world, you look so beautiful tonight.
It’s easy for me to toss
my petty thoughts like bread crumbs
for meandering ants.

A car backfires like a gunshot, making
every peaceful sound seem more profound.
I don’t know if it’s me walking

the labyrinth or if the labyrinth
travels within me, the way a turn-table
needle moves in the spinning record’s grooves,
whose tune is true or foolish.






Grey Held is a recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Creative Writing and the winner of the 2019 Future Cycle Poetry Book Prize. Three books of his poetry have been published: Two-Star General (BrickRoad Poetry Press, 2012), Spilled Milk(WordPress, 2013), and WORKaDAY (FutureCycle Press, 2019). He offers a weekly online poetry workshop (Poetry Round Table) for professional poets. He is also a literary activist, who through civic involvement connects contemporary poets with wider audiences.