Wander from doorway to doorway trying the knobs
Feel the cool of the copper against your palm
Test the handles, check the locks
Copper can cleanse

Let the curtains sway and sway with them
Part the fabric, press your face to the glass
Write a note in the condensation
Sign your name

Listen to the rain rushing through the gutters as you make your way down the hall
Trace the table as you go, stir up dust
Leave an impression

Rest on the couch with its hard, slick liner
Listen to the crunch of the plastic
Watch the rain in the reflection of the TV screen
Turn the heavy knobs and wait for the hiss of the switch
It won’t come. If it did, you’d be too old to hear it
Leave it on

Flicker in the doorway as you stand to go

This part is harder.

Find the heavy basement door and undo the latch
On the wrong side of the door
It’s unlocked now, turn the handle
Clean and cool to the touch

It’s time

Descend: there’s no one to lock the door
No secret hand to click the latch and seal you below
No shouting and pounding on old, dry wood
No splintered gate to freedom

Stare down that deep well
The way you never could or would before

Flicker in the gloom like a candle

Take a step down

Anticipate the thump of the sagging wooden stairs, but never get used to it
The sound is a drum underwater, hands in a coffin
Fifteen steps almost straight down

Barely a staircase, nearly a ladder

Feel the strange, corded texture against your soles
Heels to the back of each rung, lest you fall

Step down again
Nothing at the bottom to be seen

No light but your own

Reach up, shut the door, and disappear completely


Wait for the flicker of footfall under the grey crack of the door
For the turning of a latch and bolt
For the hiss of the TV, the plastic crunch of the couch
Wait, maybe, for a sound from below

Eyes up

Breathe in silence, and be the only sound

This part is harder.

Descend backwards
Taking steps one at a time
Go slow
Don’t look back
Watch the grey crack under the door as it slides up, up, out of view
Don’t look back
Go slow

Focus on the sound of your footfall
And don’t fall

Three more steps


The light from above is gone, now.

Take the final step, backwards and down
Feel the cool of the floor.

Maybe for the hand on your shoulder
For the panicked thumping from the stairwell
For the breath that’s not your own
For the scream
For your own nerve to give

Don’t let it.

In the basement of that old house
under its musty broken stairs
below the grey and the gloom
stand perfectly still
and breathe.

Feel the copper in your palm
Wait for the way to open

Copper can cleanse.

Then, carefully, take another step down

Sink into the foundations of the house like a black and silent swamp
Sink like a tar pit into its bones

Be something new and something old at once

And leave an impression.