Girl in the Cave
For years, the messages go unanswered.
Receiving no response is a kind of response.
She hardly remembers their slips and starts.
She marks their breaks in time.
But she mostly thinks there is not enough time, watching
as it cascades like water over the edge,
pooling past the shale and sandstone.
Lies form and free themselves on her lips.
She tells stories. Spins stories about animals.
There’s this story about a black bear, she says,
and the hunter who chased it deep into the woods.
Careening through the southeastern woods,
tracing a muddied path. The ancient silence
yielding just the slow heaving of breath.
The rush of leaves and sticks that split
in their wake, breaking against the earth
as a train named Hercules rumbled
in the distance. The bear gallops on,
past Cedar Sink and leads the man
into a limestone cave and the man rushes
headlong into it, only coming to a stop
when he finds himself in a licking coldness.
Bellowing for help, his cries unanswered.
Terrorized by the silent, dripping earth.
Blinded by night and damp with a target
on his back, he’s sure. His open eyes
no different than shut eyes. She likes this part:
How the man got lost, how the bear outwit him
in the end. How the bear knew how to get away.
Tasha Cotter is the author of the poetry collections Some Churches (Gold Wake Press, 2013), That Bird Your Heart (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Girl in the Cave (Tree Light Books, 2016). Winner of the 2015 Delphi Poetry Series, her work has appeared in journals such as Contrary Magazine, NANO fiction, and Booth. A contributor to Women in Clothes (Blue Rider Press, 2014), The Poets on Growth Anthology (Math Paper Press, 2015), and the 2017 Poet’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books), she makes her home in Lexington, Kentucky where she works in higher education.