Loose thread on a branch.
From a jacket or sweater?
He picks it up between thumb and forefinger.
Pulls and it keeps coming, gathering in his hand.
When her mind starts unraveling,
it’s clear the thread is her.
The yellow spider with the tortoiseshell back
has injected her with venom, wound her in silk—
he must find the red filament or give her up.
He sifts through the fallen leaves for it.
To guide through the eye, sew her back together.
Where are the helpers, gods or ants
to give him tokens, magic powers?
A thread hangs from her mouth.
It slips through her lips. He yanks it away.
The harder he pulls, the more avidly she swallows.
The spider’s web of red threads
stretches across the path.
Though free, he is bound with her.
Red on the forest floor, splotches.
A labyrinth. He follows the curve,
circles and circles. She in the middle,
running fate through her fingers.
Alison Hicks’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in California Quarterly (CQ), Eclipse, Fifth Wednesday, Gargoyle, Grey Sparrow, Gulf Stream, G.W. Review, The Hollins Critic, The Ledge, Mad Poets, Main Street Rag, Milk Money, Pearl, Peregrine, Softblow, Whiskey Island, and other journals. Her books include a full-length collection, Kiss (PS Books, 2011), and a chapbook, Falling Dreams (Finishing Line Press, 2006). Her novella, Love: A Story of Images (AWA Press, 2004), was a finalist in the 1999Quarterly West Novella Competition. A two-time recipient of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships, she is founder and director of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, which offers community-based creative writing workshops.