Allyson Paty

A body as it falls down a staircase
is a theory of event

unspooled & calcified
from cause, its unrelenting.

It was a Thursday. You were home. The subway
platform came into view. I was walking

& then I wasn’t. I thought
this is happening.

It was just like that,
the moment of falling begun with a sentence,

then the moment given—

light, cement, tucked head
in arpeggio.

I stood up. The policeman saying ma’am.

There’s nothing dire in this story. What I wanted
is to tell you

how in the moment where falling
& my knowledge of falling began

I felt my self in a formal sense—
a pattern of snowfall, a texture

set to accumulate
on a many-textured ground. Counter to this

ran the inward feeling that as I fell
I pulled inside of me the cement & scored metal
yellow paint & trains flanking the platform
the dirt I picked from my hair—

when a bystander gasped it was violation
of what I alone contained.

The policeman said ma’am,
I just watched you fall down the stairs

It wasn’t clear what this meant.
I said thank you.

As the cars filled, the faces
not grotesque, not alluring

as they were in some moods.
I thought how banal

to be a person, the likes,
dislikes, the narrative facts

one wears like a coat of arms.
As a teenager, I nursed a terror I’d become
a crumpled thing

at the foot of a man’s life.
As if this would happen out of no cause

no moment where falling & knowledge
of falling began.

No carelessness in you, & still I could not
open my life into a field
around you, my I
a temperature, a hue.