By CL Bledsoe

A creaky wooden staircase, held together
with metal joints threatening to tear clean
of the wood; we’d pull it down from the hall-
way ceiling, unfold it to reveal the darkness
above with a scolding shriek of straining
metal. None of the adults would follow us up
because they feared the stairs would give out.

Up through the silent hole, we’d clamber
onto a thin strip of plywood laid across
the beams. There were piles of magazines,
old toys, surrounding the attic fan, its massive
blades silenced while we were that close,
though all of us had turned it on and stared
through from above at some point.

Beyond the plywood, beams stood naked
with gray and faded blue insulation we hopped
over, telling stories about falling through
to break our legs on the floor below
while mom watched TV.

There were brown recluses and black widows
hiding in the piles, squirrels and sometimes
raccoons that would run out the vents from
our noise. We’d dig around in the detritus
of our and our parents’ lives looking to salvage
anything interesting, drag down broken toys
we didn’t remember, play with them a few
more days, and then pile them in a closet
to be forgotten.

Stuff My Stupid Heart Likes by CL Bledsoe (co-author of and The Wild Word:

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