by Mary K O’Melveny

Some people draw troubles like heat seeking missiles.
Others swat them away like gnats greeting dusk.
Most of us cling to a middle, swampy ground
like hikers who have lost their trail maps, hoping
for the best, yet unsurprised by thunderstorms
or piles of fallen rocks.  Who plans for planetary disarray?
Who anticipates any day’s discomfort?
When we began to descend into viral madness,
we did not know our journey would be limitless,
our ladder unsteady. We could not have predicted
how our tour guides would wander away as if
confused by light sources or ancient cave carvings.
Everyone wants someone   something    anything
to point in a direction that makes a shred of sense.
Now it turns out we are futility’s followers.
Long on desire. Short on rescue.
Eurydice moves forward. She hopes for salvation
but she is powerless to prevent the disastrous
look backwards. Like us, she turns faint, weak.
Her breath slows in the cave’s stilled air.

Mary K. O’Melveny,  a retired labor rights lawyer, lives with her wife in Washington, DC, and Woodstock, NY.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, Mary has had work published in many print and online journals. She is the author of A Woman of a Certain Age and Merging Star Hypotheses (Finishing Line Press 2018;  2020) and co-author of the anthology An Apple In Her Hand (Codhill Press 2019). Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

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