Monday, 12 September 2016

A poem by Katie Munnik

Grey


The week of our sister’s wedding, we painted the basement stairs.
Grey, not industrial, not cosy either.
Practical like nickels or skate blades,
work socks, sidewalks, pigeon grey.
We started at the top
but after a step or two,
reconsidered.
The stairs were too steep for the two of us,
daughters still at home,
jostled for space, trying to keep our balance,
worrying about falling or dropping the brush.
So we lowered ourselves, stretched
reaching toes down past the wet paint,
elbows and knees extended as far as they would go
to start again at the bottom.

I hoped our little brother would stay where he was.
Outside hunting for ladybugs, likely,
behind the garden shed.
We should have laid newspaper at the top of the stairs
to warn him
or told our mother
or made a sign.

Instead, we decided we only needed an escape route ourselves.
The basement window might work,
with a stool and a shove or two,
if we could manage to pop the bars from their brackets
the way Dad showed us, the day he installed the smoke detector.
We hatched a better plan.
We would paint every second step, then long-leg it back upstairs,
drink lemonade in the sun, catch ladybugs ourselves,
work on our perfect bridesmaids tans
until the paint dried.

It was a good plan, twenty-one years ago Thursday.
Maybe someday, I am very sure
we’ll go back down and paint the rest.




About Katie Munnik
I am a Canadian writer living in Cardiff, UK. My prose, poetry and creative non-fiction work has appeared in several magazines and anthologies, in newspapers across Canada and on CBC radio. I recently completed fiction mentorship through the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada.
@messy_table

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