Saturday, October 30, 2010


Another half of a thing. I wrote this for a friend's magazine, and then didn't give it to her because I hate it.


Walking is impressive. It doesn’t feel that way because you are young and you are good at it, or you are old and you are angry at it. Walking is falling. Your weight shifts forward and somehow when you were very young you gathered the bravery to let that weight go, and trust that your legs would catch you before you fall, collapse in a heap, hit your head, die. You let the momentum of that bravery propel you across the carpet and into a laughing parent's arms, who held you way up high and let you see all that danger below that you’d finally conquered and it was horrifying but they brought you into their arms again and put your head next to their neck, to ground you in the thud of a heartbeat excited as yours. You forget all this because you were very young and it was all very traumatic.

You get older and you flaunt your prowess over your own body. You run. And then it’s impressive, but then it’s sad. Everything eventually eases down into sad. And then you're seventy something. You really should have moved before now. Before worrying over the staircase. I meant to move. But there aren't many reasons to go out and the elevator is going to be fixed next month, or last, or the one before last. Pay the rent - they’ll come and bang on the door. But the stairs. The stairs are just outside the door, about four feet of eventuality and twenty seven of them deep and straight down and all of the pieces of person that need to move forward cannot possibly situate themselves in any proper way that will move down the stairs in any organized fashion. Should be simple enough. Straight down and out into January and so afraid of being held so way up high. And you should have moved. You should have let them take you wherever they’d wanted to because there are twenty six stairs and your hands look as though you baked them overnight and have perhaps never been strong enough to keep you from careening down the stairs and out into January where you'll bleed to death if your heart doesn't crack. Which it would and might anyway.

Weight shifts to the side and underneath all the aching and popping there is to be done you always think of how easy things were, and you hate it. You hate that it’s so much of your time and how heavy all of you has become, all the better to shatter the stairs, all those bones and not an ounce of trust. The left can’t be lifted, not above the height of the last stair, so it just slides off and thuds down and it's enough to make echos in the stairwell and sparks in your eyes. The stairwell is cavernous and gray green paint flakes off and flits down like dead leaves above the dizzy bottom of everything. Your cane clicks and you have heard children racing up them before they shake your whole room as they run by. It’s just stunning - that’s everything shaking. The whole room. That's everything shaking. All the bits you managed to keep anyway.

Condensing. There wasn’t much work done. Mostly you laughed with your feet up and hoped someone else would catch whomever did whatever to whomever. Once you’d run down a purse snatcher, and it felt like a ticker tape. People came out of everywhere and applauded, like you’d done it for show. Like he’d been wearing a striped shirt and raccoon make up. It was horrible and when you hit him he hit the ground and his face scraped along and there was red on her purse that red did not belong to her but she carried it home like it was something to mark the occasion. When good triumphed over evil and my bag it got wet with the justice of it all. His elbow went into your ribs and they went

Thack. You bought a gold tipped cane after the knee went, salvage your dignity in a stylish thing. And it says Thack on the stairs. The cane wasn’t much but an attempt to be dignified and it's just holding you for ransom for it. One slip and you're over. Flitting down like dried paint and landing quietly in the powdered leather of your remains. Or it's a racket. Your knees knock out the banister and the edges of the stairs crack off and the kids erupt from every blank door and yell in different languages for their mothers and it all clatters down after you. Hard to say. Depends on if you're there for it or not.


That lady. With the bag. She got a handle on your address. Pretty. Tommy found her. It went sideways from there. It never felt like it was in your hands. She kept the bag. You wish that she hadn't. It reminded you of all the horrible things you did then. There would be more. You wind up having more of those than you'd think. Probably everybody does.

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