I wasn’t thinking of taking photos when we came across these steps. I had been here so many times over the years I didn’t think I needed to capture them in another photo.These steps are upriver from where I grew up and lead from a giant springs and the shortest river on this continent to a shady grove of white birch and pine. Their memory is ingrained in me. Maybe I am ingrained in their memory (?) Somewhere inside my infrequent weariness is an eight-year-old girl in red P. F. Flyers who knows the count of these stairs.
Nearby, tourists were debating the climb. They’d make the climb if they knew the resulting view was worth it. Others voiced their dismay at the leaning rockwork on the left. What a shame, they said. If someone would fix that lean, the rockwork would be that much more beautiful. My kids turned and smiled at me. They’ve heard me talk enough about the value of a climb — would their mom use the moment to remind them? Instead, I took out my camera phone and snapped this photo.
The seven of us, plus one large dog, climbed back inside our ride. It was beginning to occur to me my focus was changing. Enough talk about process over result, journey over destination. It was time to shift to letting go of what was wrong. Time to enjoy beauty in the flaws. Time to quit thinking: flaw.
In the movies I would be scanty,
and slide over to straddle him. But
in reality, dressed in boxers and socks
I scooted until I fit beside him
in our bed rolls laid out by the fire
near the creek we once claimed as ours.
I asked if he were a letter, which he’d be.
A Dear John letter just to feel me
squirm beneath his teasing words,
but then he said M, surprised to feel my body
frown when I wondered how my F could blend
with him. He tipped me on my back to show
how well our letters fit.
I thought about days and how he’d be
a good Wednesday, but he said Tomorrow,
for each surprise and to catch the fish he missed.
Remember, he nudged, how you thread bad days
onto a stringer of yesterdays? Cut the line, he said.
I slid out of my socks and struggled
with his dreaming. He snored while I waited
for the wolf to howl because in the movies
about restarting trust, this is how it happens:
Cue the sound and the credits while the last log settles
into embers and sparks seek starlit skies.
I thought to make one last list: passwords,
past, promise, (prick) and then
I let go and slept.
This poem was originally published at Two Review.
Disclaimer: I am not nearly as old as the shoes suggest, but don’t you think that illustration is all-that?