I climbed a narrow staircase
winding upwards without end.
I climbed towards a foreign place
where someone had me sent.
I rose up, clinging to the wall,
in darkness I stumbled ahead,
and through the dark a voice would call
my name; and this it said:
”Approach, I’ve sent for you,
I have been waiting patiently
– I have a task for you, so
come and listen carefully.”
And out the darkness I then came
to the light on top of the stair
and the voice who’d spoken my name
was waiting for me there.
An old man was his guise,
he bade me enter and sit down,
stern then became his voice,
he gazed down at me with a frown.
”I sent for you purposefully,
for you have just been chosen
to aid me, it’s a necessity
and you can not be woken –
not till you have completed this;
the task I am to give you.
So have a seat, the past is whisked
away, you start anew.”
He handed me an open book –
its pages were all empty.
I trembled as I took the book
and held my destiny.
”It’s not been written yet,”
he said, with solemnity of voice;
”that is your task – now go ahead
you do not have a choice.”
I stared down at the pages
as I leafed through the volume.
I might’ve sat there ages
before filling out a column.
His eyes were resting at my face
as I sharpened a pencil.
I felt shattered by his gaze;
bent entirely to his will.
I started writing, hesitantly
and words came out of nowhere.
My hands, mere tools of literacy,
worked steadily to share…
To share the message I had been
Somehow picked out to pen down.
I didn’t know what was therein
before the page was shown.
Column up and down I wrote
as slowly dawn drew nearer
and the horizon lightened, wrote
exhausted, struck with fear.
Words fell out, on the page strewn
from my hands without my knowing.
Through the pencil they were blown –
a river – with no ending.
Then upwards I looked, and behold
the old man had disappeared.
The sun had risen, streams of gold
flowed through the windows sheer.
And I no longer sat in the small
dark room above the stairway.
Rather out of bed I crawled;
my own room on display.
For a brief second all I felt
was overwhelming relief –
until my eyes on my desk fell
and the sight I couldn’t believe:
There lay the book, open at the page
I’d reached before the morning.
I felt the weight of that man’s gaze,
sank to my feet in mourning.
It hadn’t been a dream then –
I was now all at a loss.
All I could do was grab a pen;
continue from where I left off.
Word after word kept materializing
as I went back to my work.
They mixed with tears of the exhausting
imagery that over me surged.
I realized that day – too late –
I’d given myself away.
That I’d entirely sealed my fate;
To books the best of days.
My life had taken a drastic turn
and now it’s still the same:
While down my candle slowly burns
I keep this curious name:
“Writer” is the name, and that
condemns to live forever
in print, and through all else that
through time I shall bring to paper.
No peaceful sleep inside a tomb
will be my destiny.
Rather will I be forced to haunt
any number of libraries.
No freedom and no peace was I
allotted in this life –
and even after the day I die
I’ll carry on my strife.
Hear my advice – the lot of you
who dream of a writer’s creed:
Keep off in awareness of the truth;
it’s slavery indeed!
I may lay down the pencil now
and stretch my tired limbs
but the writing is never over
and the future I can glimpse;
For it’s been written over me:
“The day I can’t write when I try
I will never again feel joyous or free;
this will be the day I die.”