The Lonely Stair

by Renwick Berchild

At its height aloneness is the pale star.

So far, and distant, when the light at last reaches our eye
it is one hundred years gone.

I act accordingly,
(my god is an outlier god)
when all are in rise,
I must fall, when all are out walking, I must be sitting,
when all are descending, I must ascend, for when the powers tied
the strings, I was not to be found at my station along the line.

I was called out by a god who is not keen on others. I was led out
into the unearthly hues of Do Not Do and Leave.

Lessons of loss, failure, wounding, and unjust sacrifice
were my brothers and sisters,
loneliness the neighboring visitor of each hour,
cold hands clutching along
the boney eaves of me.

At its zenith aloneness is the yoking of our worth and worthlessness.
At its nadir, has there ever been such an agony, as not having a birth?
To my greatest ability I act accordingly, and am led by my god

into the salt sown barrenness,

and despite that barrenness, I plant my seeds,
in dirt the fruitful have declared no dignity could ever grow.

My god insists that I do this. I watch courageous things break the dirt
and die swiftly as a heartbeat, quick
as a pupil dilating.

This waterless land has no love in it,
this arid and choking sky has no love in it,
this clay crumbles as I build,
and all the fruitful ones tell me, no more,

it is impossible.

But my god says plant so I plant.
I will not challenge a thing no sane other would attempt.

The dead are so many they form mountains;
the dead are so many

I too learn to fear the limits of my own will.

I have now seen so much death, that I know the name of the Reaper,
the name of his father and the name of his mother,
the names of all his kin and his kins’ kin.
It is a long, and lonely stair,

but I step.

I grieve, for wearily, I am the cruelest of nurturers,
pressing hopes into the crude ground,

having faith, in poison.

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