‘Eleven Steps’ came from a spiritual exercise during my undergraduate degree in which we descended an imaginary staircase into a flooded basement.
From this came the inspiration for this poem, expanding each imagined step into a metaphor for a phase of life.
Hope you enjoy!

 

Eleven Steps

On the first step there is nothing. The step is no step. There is no foot to put forward, heart to follow, mind to doubt, gut to trust. A descent, hollow and null, out of or into a void.

On the second step there is comfort.
The step warms your soles.
A woollen blanket
wraps around you like a womb,
softening waves that will crash against your shores:
preventing self-erosion.

On the third step there is discovery.
The step feels an unknown feel.
As colour blends into your cells,
your eyes wonder,
your feet wander,
and the world paints itself for you.

On the fourth step there is pain.
The step is sewing needles,
a pavement of pin pricks,
digging deeper—
deeper.
You’re alive. You ask if you want to be.

On the fifth step there is company.
The step is shared.
He, she, forever by your side.
They have found you.
You have found them.
The step feels like a natural end.

On the sixth step there is a crossroads.
The step divided into two.
The routes unclear,

each fork forgotten,
and your memories of the path you trod
are fast turning into mist.

On the seventh step there is company.
The step has returned to one.
Companion has become guide,
lover has become love,
as you walk
a consensual path.

On the eighth step there is pain.
The step reopens scars and scabs,
pierces pre-prepared flesh,
indents, scores,
to show where you bleed most.

On the ninth step there is discovery.
The step feels a familiar feel.
You discover how to be
alone.

On the tenth step there is warmth.
The step is an anti-climax.