STAIRCASE

It stands at the end
of a very long hallway
white walls, naked
like giant canvasses
awaiting the overdue artist.
There are no doorways
off this corridor, just
the one behind you
through which you entered
what now seems hours ago.
You stand as though rooted
to the polished marble floor,
your legs leaden, to move
would somehow rip you free
of your only mooring
and you think that you might
float off like a balloon,
its white string slipping
through the fingers of a child.
It rises gracefully, a white
marble staircase, its steps
visible only by the faint
shadows they cast, each
on its neighbor.  Railing
and its balusters are the white
of clouds with no thought of rain
and when you stare it seems
to undulate gently, as if
drawing in and letting out breath.
You have no idea where it goes,
aren’t sure if you want to know.
It goes where it must,
no farther, you think, like
the walls of the house that
rise just high enough
to contain it, and you aren’t sure
it leads anywhere, nor do you
care at this particular moment.
Is it to carry others up
or to bring them down, or
just, perhaps to sit alone
and the end of a very long
hallway, white walls naked
pure, needing nothing, no one.