Poem of the Week | September 01, 2014

This week we feature a new poem by A.V. Christie. Christie is the author of Nine Skies, which won the National Poetry Series, and The Housing, winner of the McGovern Prize. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Commonweal, The Iowa Review, Crazyhorse and Ploughshares, among other journals. Christie has received grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, from the National Endowment for the Arts, and from the Pennsylvania and Maryland State Arts Councils. She has been a Visiting Writer at Villanova and LaSalle Universities, at Bryn Mawr and Goucher Colleges, and Penn State Abington and The University of Maryland. She teaches private workshops and is Associate Director of the Chester County Art Association in West Chester, PA.
Author’s note:

This poem grew out of a visit to a corn maze in Lancaster County, PA. These mazes spring up in rural counties in the area come autumn. Farmers probably make more on admission price to a maze than they do for the crop itself. My family and I went into the maze and by some fluke found the exit within 10 minutes. This was not an acceptable maze experience for us. We tried again. This poem is the result of that second try….


Corn Maze


I heard the next voice over:
Think small it said. Think small.
Through the halls, the walls of corn,
I heard how the voice was held together
by its heritage of fear
and an inescapable sound of wings.
I had tried also always to flee—
the desire that rises and falters unceremoniously
Now I was in the middle with a tall flag
and a poor diagram shedding no light,
crosshatched hay strewn on the path.
It felt as though we all were the remnant
of some great trauma. Wandering.
One voice later, at the two hour mark,
I heard a father: Shut up or I’ll rip your tongue out.
This was maybe too near the center part of our map.
(Where we’d come to again.)
And I’d been one who’d tried always to position
herself at the edge of a field.
I thought we would simply go in and come out.
But here was density, tunnels leading back
to a childhood, its basic cosmology of annihilation.
Oh, this rustling and reliable sequence
of panic—I wondered who could I really be
without it?