I stand at the corner of Wyatt and Earp, unable to decide on which street to take. I know that Wyatt will lead home; take me back to that which I feel so ambivalent about. To walk along Earp means the inevitable conclusion of our little saga, and this is something I am equally ambivalent about. I now wish to find a third option, one that does not involve returning from the direction I have come. I imagine this third option as stairs that climb up above the buildings in front of me. The stairs are made of stone—granite, to be specific—and do not have a banister on either side. They are, and have to be, wide enough for only one person to traverse it. Also, too narrow for any movement other than forward. I place a sign at the beginning that says, in very clear letters, “No Turning Aloud. All Turning Aloud Must Be Done before Ascension.”
I don’t have the need to turn aloud, so I climb the stairs and watch as the streets below reach out to the horizons: Wyatt to the northwest, Earp to the northeast. From above, both streets look surprisingly lovely. So much so that I almost yearn for them.
The stairs continue to ascend, and I along with them. Somewhere, there must be a plateau. This is where I will be able to stop and drink from the fountain; this is where I will rest and eat from the trees. But it is a long journey, so to preoccupy my mind, away from my tiring legs, I begin to whisper some poems.
Eyes like skies,
Spanning the world
but oh so empty.
I built these stairs
to reach their depths,
But the higher I go
the emptier they seem.
I stop for a moment and look carefully over the edge. I’m very removed from Wyatt and Earp street, yet I no longer yearn for either. My legs speak to me, and to quiet them I resume my walking.
That which is separate
If I knew no better,
as most don’t seem to do,
then I’d turn back now,
Only to find it remained separated
Here is the plateau, but it’s nothing but a parking lot. Jesus, how silly of me, I almost blurt aloud before catching myself. I step off the stairs and onto the plateau; this is where the divisions become evident, and I see my name scrawled lazily in one particular spot. I move to it, trying not to step on the other names, and take a seat. For a brief moment, truly the briefest of moments, I think I can feel the letters squirm under the weight of my bottom.
“I must have killed my name.” I say this to no one, but perhaps the other names can hear. In fact, they must have heard, as all of the sudden they are inching away from me. I see desperation in their movements, and as each strains to distance itself, the names begin to unthread and unravel. In an attempt to calm the crawling names, I recite another poem.
Our lives are like a perpetual inching
We each pull back
then push forward
Hoping that along the way
something will happen
something will give
And we won’t have to move anymore
The names are now spilling off the edges of the plateau. They don’t make a sound as they tumble down, down to Wyatt and Earp streets. I wish I could hear them in their last. This gives rise to an idea. Since I can’t use the stairs anymore, I unravel my limp name and affix one end to a division. Then I let the other end fall over the edge and watch as it flails its way down as far as it can go. My name is not long enough, but I clamber down it nonetheless. As I do so, I listen for the fallen names. How do names die? Do they whimper? Do they cry? Perhaps they moan or laugh or scream or