By George Kalogeris
If I ever got to the bottom of it, itís when
I went running down the cellar stairs, a kid
Who knew one foot would have to land on the shag
Rug and feel what was hidden under it sag—
As if for a split-second the earth might open
Under my feet. That wooden door in the floor.
It always sprang back up on its creaky hinges.
ďThe TrapĒ we called it. It kept me on my toes.
Kept me from trusting too much in solid ground.
(O racing heart, each tremulous step of the way!)
The only time I saw it gaping open
Was when an awful odor rose from its depths.
And then it was Mr. Streeter, the master plumber,
In yellow rubber overalls and wielding
His giant wrench, who climbed down into it.
Mr. Streeter, waist-deep in the muck and mire, sealing
The broken pipe from which the backed-up sludge
Of crap and sewage had flowed back into our basement.
And now it was bolted shut. The floor was mopped.
And the thing doesnít open again until Iím watching
Steven Spielbergís movie, Schindlerís List,
And thereís that shivering kid whoís up to his neck
In excrement as he hides in the overflowing
Latrines of Auschwitz. He looks like my childhood friend,
David Rubitsky, whose mother smoked a lot,
And spoke with a heavy accent. They lived on our street,
Next door to the quiet, elderly Armenian
Lady who had no family to speak of . . .
Iím sitting in a darkened movie theater
And running down the cellar stairs. And thatís
When Spielbergís epic suddenly reminds me
That Homer never mentions the stench of Hell,
But Danteís Florentine nostrils are filled with it.
That stinking trap. Just under the shaggy pelt of a rug.
Copyright © 2021 by George Kalogeris.