by Nickie Albert
In the dream there is no oxygen tank. There is no I.V. tree
with its laden, plastic fruit. There is no hospital bed.
There is no hospital.
In the dream we’re walking up endless flights of stairs, effortlessly.
Tier after tier of steps, one follows another and we follow each other
and it’s easy. We both breathe easy.
There is no scarring on her lungs and I don’t smoke. We are both young,
healthy, almost the same age. Mother and daughter laughing as we ascend.
Then we come to a ladder.
Stopping to look up, then back at each other, my mother goes first.
She grabs each rung as if it’s a brass ring with her prize. Smiling,
she looks back to see that I’m still behind her.
In the moment when I see how blue her eyes are, not the grey of illness,
I begin to fall behind. My legs feel the weight of gravity and I know.
This is not my trip.
Author’s Comment: I wrote this poem shortly after my mother died of pulmonary fibrosis. I had also recently watched the HBO version of Tony Kushner’s play, Angels in America. The scene where Prior Walter is climbing the flaming ladder to heaven (aka San Francisco) was very powerful to me. I think these two events combined in my subconscious and produced this dream, which provided vivid imagery for the poem.
Bio: Nickie Albert is a poet and playwright. She is currently working on a new play, Use No Hooks. She has worked in a number of professions including social work, educational administration and ice cream. She now supplements her literary career doing Software Development. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.