Stairs/Stares: a Poem*

Have you seen her climb the stairs. Seen her fingers curled around the railing. Seen her foot lift, catch,land, pause. Lift, catch, land, pause. Seen her hoist herself forward, challenging gravity one more time.And then just one more time again, and one more time after that. Seen the effort she exerts now a routine that her body moves into without thought. There’s a reason it’s called a stair well. She can’t feel herself falling, does not know if she’ll remember how to swim upon making contact with the water.

Have you seen people see her climb the stairs. Have you seen a Birdseye view of her climbing their stares as she climbs the stairs. Have you seen them curve around her and apologize as they pass her. Heard the apology that comes out as though they bumped her, though there is no touch. Apologize as though witnessing her ascendance is forbidden. Apologize because they were taught that witnessing her ascendance is forbidden. Have you seen the discomfort in their faces, can you feel in your chest the breath of relief that they let out once they finally pass the taboo of her Lift, catch, land, pause.

Have you ever thought about the girl climbing the stairs. Ever thought that maybe her trek is not a trek at all, not something to be seen, not something to write poetry about. That maybe the struggle on her face is just the position it needs to take so that her body can do its job. That maybe upon getting to the top, there is no confetti cannon, no celebratory gospel choir singing praises in purple robes, she does not pass go, does not collect 200 dollars. That maybe upon reaching the top she just moves to the next part of the life that she has built.

Have you ever wondered what thoughts fill her mind while she climbs. Does it occur to you that the climber has thoughts? She counts in her head the number of people who pass her. Storing the apologies for a book she will write later. She wonders what it must feel like to be desired. Not any of this “what makes you different is what makes you beautiful” bullshit, but what it is like to really be at the center of somebody else’s want. As she climbs the stairs, her mouth is rendered dry but the only thirst she feels cannot be quenched with a cup of water.

Have you ever climbed the stairs with her. Matched the pace of her lift, catch, land, pause. Felt the rhythm ring in your ears as you stay by her side. Move slowly in silence, no words needed to acknowledge the intimacy present. An intimacy that is not necessarily sexual, but is somehow everything. Have you ever listened to her breathing go from steady to deep puffs, have you let yourself breath next to her, with no apology. No worry. No projected struggle. Have you ever lifted your hand to the small of her back as she makes her way upward, not to guide her or because her body is asking for support, but just to touch what others have deemed untouchable, just to let her know that you are there, climbing the stairs.

Today, this is where she stands.

~ Sonya

*This was originally posted on Spastically Yours some time ago- see it here

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