Local Lit

LOCAL LIT: ‘To a Fire Escape, Not Just in Case of Flames’

poetry by Jan Carroll

Jan Carroll |

All that humid summer, the burning fall, winter
coming on making things even more hard-pressed,
me so often staunch in myself, so home-bound,
so agoraphobic, so no-I-won’t-go, won’t come out
of myself, out of my used-to a-part-ment, you
like a fire escape were always there
outside the bolted egress door, an alternative
way to leave the premises, a zig-zag
of flights and landings that snaked
down to the ground, to the walk,
to the boulevard, to the street
where traffic flowed freely, to shops
and bars, art installations, benches, cars,
cars, cars, all those makes and models
of who we think we are. Meanwhile inside
the tenement, inside my delicate life endeavor,
the elevator always in disrepair, residents
who dared that route getting stuck
in its ups and downs calling emergency,
needing to be pried out. Even the stairwell
grim and interior, dangerous past
certain hours, sticky and dimly lit. In the
rationing out of those weeks, though, you’d ring
the bell, announce yourself over the intercom
in humorous voices, enter in once I flipped the switch,
opened the latch – what you brought to the party,
to dinner, not flowers or wine, not an invasive
presence, invasive species that we are,
but a mind that looked out from its perch
to all the windows through which it could
possibly lift and stretch its wings,
a concentrated gist that hovered in a kind of church
and after the blessing, sent its congregants out
infusing the world with flavor.


Jan Carroll’s recent book, Enough of a Path to Get Through, is available at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St., Eau Claire. To subscribe to her free quarterly poetry newsletter, email her at jan.carroll333@gmail.com. Read more by and about Jan on her Volume One author page.


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