The Red Staircase

A deep blue ocean meets a pale blue sky, caressing at the horizon. Stretching across infinity together­ yet separated by difference. The reflection of the sun in the sky, touches the water and binds the two like a zipper. The sky, tainted by the clouds that pass through, smudge its purity like erasers across pencil marks. The water encapsulating my fears, crashing against a shore that doesn’t care, floating shards of broken things, all drifting to a place I do not know, awakening the reality that my world is a pinpoint. A wall, once so strong, now seems so fragile under the realization that all things can crumble. Water seeps through the rubble, escaping the wall that once stood, a new freedom. A stranger, liberated by loss. Sculpting a path against rocky waters, I make my way through the ruins. Picking up, wading through, picking up, picking up­ if I can contain it all, I can repair it all. Carrying the fears, the hopes and the dreams of all of humanity on my shoulders. Imagining how it would look to put the pieces back together, knowing it will be different. I remember that things are sometimes more beautiful after they’ve been broken. Kintsukuroi. I notice the building, now only partially in tact, I see through to the other side. The same path I’ve traveled my whole life, now seems unfamiliar­ like a virus altering my own body. Scaffolding stands like a skeleton, the system exposed. I notice its similarity to other systems­ and suddenly the pinpoint grows. In an all blue landscape I see an endless vibrant red staircase of “what if?” Knowing that at the top, I will meet the sky, devoid of any rubble. Wondering if my crumbling mind, carrying the weight of my abandoned dreams, will withstand my broken body, I ascend.

 

Ben Shahn, Red Stairway, 1944

Artwork: Ben Shahn – “The Red Stairway”



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