Thirteen Steps

Thirteen steps
Bob read me a poem today by an adjunct instructor at Point Park he’d hired years ago, Fred Shaw. The poem is called “Thirteen Steps.” Definitely reflects the film, “Thirty-nine Steps.” But in the poem his father swallows as much air as possible as he approached the steps, one of the biggest obstacles in his elderly day. Fred reflects on his own struggle now, hardly 40, Bob says, possibly much younger, carrying the air conditioner up from the family basement to place in the window for his father. In the second part of the poem he remembers the joy of the steps when he was young, how he dreamed of soaring from the top to the bottom and never landing.
A few years ago I soared from the top step of probably 13 stairs, nut I landed, careening my forehead into the very bottom rail of our banister. I have the scar to mark the occasion, one that could have been much worse. I wasn’t knocked unconscious, wasn’t hurt, and wasn’t alone. Bob got me quickly to the emergency room. Since I’ve place a gate at that top step to break any future falls. People probably think the gate is for our granddaughter, raya, and in future, her brother, Clydie. And I’m sure it will be protection for them as well.
But the gate is a reminder to me, a symbol of my advancing years, 1 more in a week, actually. But Fred’s poem reminds me of younger days when I slid down banisters as a 7 or 8 year old. How our son Joel, especially, loved the stairs, crawling triumphantly up them, then sliding down them on his stomach, challenging me to follow.
And at 32, I did. Sometimes we went down the stairs side by side, using our hands and arms, giggling, loving the sensation. At 35 I did it with him when I was pretty pregnant with his sis, Leslie. And recently, I did it once again, all by myself, just to defy old age. Take that!

About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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