The Return

The deed took all my heart.

I did not think of you,

Not 'til the thing was done.

I put my sword away

And then no more the cold

And perfect fury ran

Along my narrow bones

And then no more the black

And dripping corridors

Hold anywhere the shape

That I had come to slay.

Then for the first time,

I saw in the cave's belly

The dark and clotted webs,

The green and sucking pools,

The rank and crumbling walls,

The maze of passages.


And I thought then

Of the far earth,

Of the spring sun

And the slow wind,

And a young girl,

And I looked then

At the white thread.


Hunting the minotaur

I was no common man

And had no need of love.

I trailed the shining thread

Behind me, for a vow,

And did not think of you.

It lay there, like a sign,

Coiled on the bull's great hoof.

And back into the world,

Half blind with weariness

I touched the thread and wept.

O, it was frail as air,

And I turned then

With the white spool


Through the cold rocks,

Through the black rocks.

Through the long webs,

And the mist fell,

And the webs clung.

And the rocks tumbled,

And the earth shook.

—Mary Oliver