The Child and the Stairs

by Moniza Alvi

I hear you running up and down the stairs,
but the minute I grab hold of the banister
you turn your face the other way.
Surely, you’re my childhood, visiting
      a favourite place,
and hiding awkwardly from me?
I was once a tenant in your house.
Now I know you from your invisibility.
You prowl around me when no one’s looking,
and hurry away, as from an illicit meeting.
Well, I won’t admit I’ve recognised you.
But you must also keep our secret,
this constant rumour of my early footsteps
on the present-day stairs.



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