The Staircase


My grandfather built a cabin

into the side of a mountain,

above a river so old

they named her “new”.

Behind the house,

he built a staircase

to conquer the steep slope

of the looming mountain.

Coaxing us onward and upward to even higher ground.


I climbed it

over and over again

as a child.

Round, short legs

straining to match pace

with ones longer and stronger.

Always out of breath, but somehow breathing deeper.

Each breath bypassing my lungs and planting

roots in my feet.

The steps stop somewhere up ahead—

harder to see now that the trees have continued

to fulfill their heavenly commandment

to grow.


I stand here older now.

Not old enough to claim any wisdom,

but young enough

to do it anyway.

I’m here now

looking for a poem.

A meaning—anything—something

to capture this part of my childhood

in more than just my memory.


Is it just a staircase?

Built by leathered, weathered hands

into the side of a mountain.

Or maybe, the metaphor is how

nature takes what we have

created and holds it close to her body.

Keeps it for us. Changes it, maybe, in our absence.

Creates something new for us. Like this poem.


Maybe, it’s just a staircase.

Maybe, it’s a story about death and the life after it.

[Alexandra Lane]

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