The Mystery of the Stairs by George Moore

The Mystery of the Stairs

George Moore

Easy does not like stairs.
They are the long negotiation
of right paw, left paw, rhythm
of the eternal damnation.

Easy would not make police dog
nor survive in search and rescue.
The ups and down are a mystery
mentally beyond my knowing.

Such is the Hitchcockian dilemma
of Montreal. The third floor 
apartment, the 19th century hall.
And the one flight that links

the cycles of heaven and hell. 
Easy does not like stairs.
The invisible creature of self
makes him hesitate, lunge, repeat.

Those things we do without thinking:
washing dishes, cleaning the room,
sweeping endlessly as any Buddha.
Those things we fear only to hesitate

in doing for the mystery of stairs,
the unthought rhythm of our lives. 
Easy does not like stairs. He sees
himself in each crocked step

as in a hall of mirrors. Each line
across his colorblind sight 
is the self falling through the air.
Each self separated out into now.

Easy does not like stairs. The mystery
of movement, one’s own, another’s,
the sweeping toward death 
at the heart of all action.

For us, for the enemies, for fear
of flight, for the unnatural distance
and the narrow steps of old ladies,
for the sickness at heart,

just to be there, sleeping, standing
above, or below, but not to negotiate,
contemplate, the telescoping selves
into the future.

Easy does not like stairs.
Wouldn’t you rather play outside?
Why live at the top of the world
when the passage is all darkness?

The pyramid, the Mayan temple,
the stone steps of Skellig Michael,
the cavern to cavern descent
of Carlsbad.

The earth is flat; the day sunny.
Wouldn’t you rather play outside?
The legs ignore the mind, 
the last surge, sweeping upward,

rapid as a piano player in a dark hall,
lost in the wonder of his extra-mental
life, never lingering, never thinking
that the thought would make it so,

the journey is forgotten as soon 
as it is done, until the morning,
the call, the moment, and then again.
Easy does not like stairs.

About the Author

George Moore’s collections include Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle 2016) and Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015). Nominated for six Pushcart Prizes, and a finalist for both the National Poetry Series and the Brittingham Poetry Award, his work has appeared in The AtlanticArcOrbisPoetryValparaiso and Lowestoft Chronicle. He lives with his wife on the south shore of Nova Scotia.