Written by Kathleen, #7

An old stairway

Steps taken two at a time

White carpet worn gray

Divots from where little feet

Stomped up in a temper

Or battered baseball cleats

Hurried to find that forgotten ball

Discarded objects in unseen corners

A wrapper of a lollipop

That Mom brought when we were sick

The bright rainbow colors

Of a forgotten hair elastic

Clutter until the routine vacuum

 

Those creaking steps

Carried bounding messengers

In skips and leaps

With thilling news

“He got into West Point!”

“She’s making beef stew!”

“We’re leaving on Wednesday!”

The railing’s paint

Has been chipped away

Eager hands skimming along it

 

The first stair

Was the timeout seat

A child staring at the floor

We hauled laundry down

During morning chores

Or competed to test

Who could jump

From the highest steps

Lucky not to snap limbs

In our stupid,

Reckless games

But I think the record is the eighth step

 

Thirteen steps exactly

Linking levels of my childhood

From brand-new to eighteen

How many times did I slip

And fall head over heels

A capsized ship with no rudder

Sleeping bags and backpacks

Tossed from the second floor

Ready for the latest kayak trip

How many times did I lie in bed

Waiting for the creaks and squeaks

Of someone coming to kiss my head

Pull the covers around my drowsy shoulders

 

The constant in our crazy house

A willing participant

In ambushes, move-outs

Coffee drips and road trips

Ingrained in my childhood

With rug-burns and a broken wrist

Carry a stack of Christmas gifts

So high you can’t see your feet

So count steps as you head down

One, two, three, four

Shouts and songs echoing

From floor to floor

Five, six, seven, eight

Thunder down like a racehorse

If you slept too late

Nine, ten, eleven, twelve

Stagger up after a workout

And hope you don’t collide with the stairwell

Thirteen steps exactly

We counted them many times

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