The Clew

Sure enough, the ball of yarn she had given him,
tightly wound and slightly heavier than it looked,
did the trick. While she looped the loose end
round her middle finger, he dropped the rest
and watched it roll down what must have been
an imperceptible incline. He stooped, as if in pursuit
of a runaway toddler. At the first fork, the ball
turned left; at the next, left again. Never a second’s
hesitation! It seemed to have a mind of its own;
to be, in fact, clever. Dwindling but purposeful,
it guided – beckoned him, you might say –
through passages narrower and narrower,
towards a deeper dark, a fouler stink,
where her brother, the bull-man, cowered,
snivelled and blinked: a top-heavy monster,
easily overpowered. His killer picked up the thread,
now wholly unravelled, and, too distracted to make
a proper ball, gathered it into his arms, until it led
back to the mouth of the labyrinth. There,
unwound from her finger, it was allowed to fall,
in a tangle, to the ground.

from The Curiosities, unpublished poems, ? Christopher Reid 2013, used by permission of the author.

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