The bottom step is a barrier
Her boundary with the outside world.
I watch her every day, she stops
On that last step
As one would were they leaving somewhere very dear to them.
She waits for around ten minutes
Before a screech emanates from inside the hotel
(Difficult to hear, unless you focus
On the panic that transforms her face
As she runs back up the steps.)
Today is summer, and the breeze blows, gently
Lifting the curtain at the window
And the edge of her dress,
it floats up to expose her knee.
Traffic – and life – goes on.
But each day I stop.
Observe. Take a second.
Look at the world the way
I think she does. The bright grey
Of the outside, ripe for exploration.
So entranced is she that I notice
A cat, black from nose tip to tail,
Slink past her, into the hotel.
I wish him luck, and that he may
Leave more freely than she.
Find a cosy room.
I see in her face – just for an instant –
A flash of uncertainty. Surely she sees
How easily she could step down
Off the step, past her boundary,
And join the rest of us here, in the ever moving present.
Just as she raises her toes, right on cue,
Comes the screech. I hear it through
The fear that spreads across her face as she turns,
Runs back up the steps, back inside,
Her dreams of rebellion put away again, left for another day.
A recent task in creative writing was to write a poem inspired by a painting by Edward Thomas, to demonstrate the ekphrasis that we were learning about in our poetry lectures in a more hands on way. I chose his painting Summertime. I was intrigued by the woman in the painting lingering where she did, and this is what came of that intrigue.
I would recommend trying to write a poem from this sort of inspiration, as it was really interesting to see how so many of us in the class interpreted the same painting in so many different ways, despite being asked the same questions.