Secret Passages IV

I’ll have to meet you there,
I shout.

You can’t be late
to your own brother
and sister’s graduation
,
Dad returns. Let’s go!

Fine. I’ll tie my shoes
in the car.

I grab my brother’s mortarboard
from behind my socks, steal
a last look and start
down the stairs.

I get all the way to the door
at the bottom before I notice
it: there were hinges
on the wall by the landing.

I walk back up.
There’s no handle, no crease
where the wall would meet
a door, but there are without question
two hinges in the wood.

I check my watch. 1:14.
Ceremony starts at 2:00.

Oh, Hell.

It gives
easily, and I step
over the lip
onto an unfamiliar set
of stairs.

I follow them down
to a wide bottom step:
a long room full of wine boxes
and a well-worn blue couch
that turns in the middle,
like an L.

The front door is open.
The air smells like the first weeks
of spring.

Upstairs, the floor creaks.
Someone coughs in the next room.

I walk toes-down toward the door and lean
in slightly: a bearded man in a flannel shirt
is pulling nails out of the kitchen wall.
He has a pile on the counter already.
Next to the pile is a photo frame around
a bit of construction paper,
some crayon—

Are you coming?

The sound covers the air,
covers everything.
I turn back
and I’m on my stairs.

The hinges are gone.

On my way to the car
I check my watch:

1:13.

Added: April 9, 2013 | Last changed: February 14, 2015