The Blue Stairs

There is no fear 
in taking the first step 
or the second 
or the third

                having a position
                between several Popes

In fact the top 
can be reached 
without disaster


The code 
consists in noticing 
the particular shade 
of the staircase

                occasionally giving way
                to the emotions

It has been chosen

To graduate 
the dimensions 
ease them into sight

                republic of space

Radiant deepness 
a thumb 
passed over it

                as one who executes robbers

Waving the gnats 
and the small giants 

How to surprise 
a community 
by excellence

somehow it occurred

                living a public life

The original design 
was completed 
no one complained

In a few years
it was forgotten


It was framed 
like any other work of art 
not too ignobly

                kicking the ladder away

Now I shall tell you
why it is beautiful

Design: extraordinary 
color: cobalt blue

                secret platforms

Heels twist it
into shape

It has a fantastic area 
made for a tread 
that will ascend

Being humble 
i.e. productive

Its purpose
is to take you upward

On an elevator 
of human fingerprints 
of the most delicate 

Being practical
and knowing its denominator

To push
one foot ahead of the other

Being a composite
which sneers at marble

                all orthodox movements

It has discovered 
in the creak of a footstep 
the humility of sound

Spatially selective 
using this counterfeit 
of height

To substantiate
a method of progress

Reading stairs 
as interpolation 
in the problem of gradualness

                with a heavy and pure logic

The master builder
acknowledges this

As do the artists 
in their dormer rooms

                eternal banishment

Who are usually grateful 
to anyone who prevents them 
from taking a false step

And having reached the summit 
would like to stay there 
even if the stairs are withdrawn

From Forces of Imagination: Writing on Writing by Barbara Guest, published by Kelsey St. Press. Copyright © 2003 by Barbara Guest. Originally published in The Blue Stairs (New York: Corinth Books, 1968). Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.