Under the stairs, what in the darkness grew
to fill the space? It took up all the air,
became close and webby, a kind of fur,
damp as breath. Children went there, descended
one soft step after another into
the cool wavery shade of the basement
where narrow panes seeped dusty rays, striping
air with glowing motes, directing the eye
there, the low door shaky on its hinges,
the absence of light leaking around gaps.
It was like entering sleep through a drain.
Noise seemed pointless, exterior. This was
a breach in the world, grave riddle asking
to be figured. A far outpost called on
rarely and without benefit of speech.
Graphic: John Oughton, "Toronto Alley." Detail ~ click for full image.