Monday, April 19, 2010

Back Stairwell

By Mark Rudman

I've chosen to take the stairs.
It's harder, but quicker

than waiting for the elevator
which seems eternally stuck on R—Roof.

And I'm late, the last of the parents
who don't send a stand-in.

I'm running, propelled by a kind of demon
―and embarrassed by my lateness—

up the back stairs of the synagogue,
when a window appears in the shaft,

on the wall of the stairwell;
a real window, like a painting on a wall

through which you can see the sky.
The shattered blue leans in, breaks

through the wall; it leaves
an opening, a sudden shudder, a frisson

like a rustle of eternity
shattered in the vista of receding

clouds, antennae, water towers…
and I think we are not far from ecstasy

even in the interior.
I can't get my son to hold the banister

as we descend the stairs;
a look of sheer defiance clouds his face,

the same boy who, the other night
I watched shuffle and backpedal and nearly fall,

down the escalator, over
the rapids of the raw-toothed

edges of the blades;
his hands, his attention, occupied

by a rabbit samurai Ninja turtle
and Krang, the bodiless brain.

I gauged the dive I would need
to catch him if he fell:

a flat out floating horizontal grab
I couldn't even have managed in my youth.

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