Autobiography

Free climbing without a rope

In my home
My steps now fragile and fearful
I’m free climbing without a rope
Descending the steep old stairs
My right hand on the bannister
On the left I have finger holds
On bookcase shelves

Fingertips grip
Steadying
Hold 1:
On the edge in front of
Pigeon Feathers
Under Milk Wood
The New Black Poetry
Kaddish
Left foot down one step
Right foot down to the same step 

Fingertips grip
Steadying
Hold 2:
On the edge in front of
Paradise Lost
Dubliners
On Chesil Beach
The Reprieve
Left foot down one step
Right foot down to the same step 

Fingertips grip
Steadying
Hold 3:
On the edge in front of
The Cement Garden
Smithering
Surfacing
Poems for people who don’t read poems
Repeat steps

Steadying
Hold 4:
Set in Darkness
The Human Stain
Black Dogs
Invitation to a Beheading
Repeat steps

Hold 5:
Murphy
The Golden Notebook
Tell me lies
Mountains of the mind
Repeat steps

Hold 6:
The Long Take
Pigs in Heaven
Any Human Heart
Drive your plough over the bones of the dead.
Repeat steps

Final hold:
Photographs of my daughters together in a photo frame fashioned as a sheep
Left foot down
Pivot body to right
Right foot down in front of left foot
Right hand grip bannister wall bracket
Left hand grip architrave
Steadying
Deep breath
Left foot down the long drop of the burglar’s step
Gasp
Right foot down.
Both feet down
Free climb complete
Relief
Take walking stick from where it rests against the wall

There is neither rhyme nor reason to this
Expect the fear of falling
Domestic climbing without a rope