Anne Shaw

In Medias Res

Before the day grows hot, she wakes to the drone
of bees. She fastens the braid of her leaving, hooks
her shadow back to the wall like a coat.
She counts the pieces of dreams: ten black birds
and a coin. Coastline where a blue house
waits with its rooms like hearts.
Now when she hears them talk
she knows how the story will end. How can she leave
this orchard, embroidered with loss?
Things do not even have names
other than those she gives them. Light threads her veins
like a needle. She knows no tense
for this. Where are the people not
her own, their rooms in order, their city lodged
in ice? The almanac has no chart, the atlas
no pale map. At night she slips out
like a cricket, follows the shape of the trees, touches
the mulberry’s branches, blackened
with fruit. Always before there has been
no way out of the garden. Now she hears him saying
Thou shalt not. The path beneath the trees
cleaves as the words like snow
swirl around her. This, she thinks,
must be the beginning of time.

Anne Shaw
“In Medias Res” is from Undertow (Persea Books, 2007), and first appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Vol. 32, Spring/Summer 2003.