Oliver de la Paz



The boy in the labyrinth pours water on his shirt. He lifts the damp end over his face. His eyes, the only thing to be seen. He watches, walking backwards. The smoke turning on its belly, inching forward. Still, there are interruptions in the smoke's movement. Staggers. Little curls of time-lapse air. The intensity of the fire, an object, palpable in its manifestation. The iris in the boy's uncovered eyes trap the image of fire in a fixed and unspeakable repetition with each blink. As if the scene were on cellulose, each cinematic arc caught between the golden lines of eyelashes. The frame around it. The limits of it between the rift or the glimpse.




The boy in the labyrinth makes a camera with his hands. His left hand's fingers coiled into a tube as his right cranks the imaginary reel into imaginary canisters. Light escapes the lens since sunlight's rays can't penetrate this far underground. Of the few things the boy is certain of as he films in the dark—sound, the way the nails of his fingers touch the nail of his thumb, the beast's smell as sharp as metal filings. Cranking the hand camera, the boy walks backwards. The fire he set glows beyond the corner. The beast roams somewhere beyond that. And somewhere in the imaginary canister of film, a blur of something against the maze's damp walls. Something mirrored. Stirred. Something—the labyrinth's blue walls. A reflection of the boy filming himself.




The boy in the labyrinth practices his kiss. He puts his palm to his mouth and lets his lips brush the tiny lines crossing this way and that. Something slings its weight from side to side and the boy stops. Doors swing their keyholes out as if to look. As if the swing of a door is a kind of hopefulness. As if the space once closed by doors presents the boy with a new overture. A movement towards love. Grimed, beyond the reach of his self-kissing, the boy wonders if the beast presses his face in his hands. Whether his palms are all rocket and flare. Moist from the beast's breath. Meanwhile the kiss in the boy's hand is noticeably hot. It is like a key pressed to his palm for the longest of times.







I started working on the Labyrinth poems after watching David Lynch's film, Inland Empire. I had been rereading the Theseus myth and had imagined Theseus losing his mind inside the Labyrinth.