Ascension, by Nickie Albert

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.

3 thoughts on “Ascension, by Nickie Albert

  1. I really enjoyed this poem. It works so well on a number of levels and in just a few lines mangages to capture so much of the intensity of the relationship and of the experience of the poet. Dream poems seem to have a special power and you have most definitely tapped into that power here.

  2. Aaron, thank you so much for your kind words. I think when the poem is written as if still in the dream that the atmosphere can be faithfully captured.
    Thanks, again.


  3. There is so much that I love about this poem. The understated loss; the cathartic epiphany at the end; the subtle structure of 2 roughly six-beat lines followed by a third half as long, suggesting breathless anxiety followed by momentary resolution; the internal rhymes of another and other, lungs and young, mother and other. The repetition of phrases like “In the dream” and “There is no” and participles in the 4th stanza, setting up the absence of grammatical repetition in the fifth. Simply beautiful.

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