‘Upstairs’ by Danielle Wong

soft cartel april 2018

The doors opened
on steep stairs
that lead to a void
darker than any black hole.

The switch on the dank wall
stabbed her hand
while it slid through cobwebs.

She kept her hand on the wall
while she walked in the dim light
towards her favourite rocking chair.

There she sat, rocking back and forth,
safe from the world she knew,
away from the bright sunlight
that laughed while it absorbed all her energy.

No one wanted to follow her down there,
no matter how hard she tried.

She rocked and rocked,
in memory of a distant, small happiness.

Gently, she rolled the cobwebs off her hands
and wrapped it slowly
round and round
around her wrist,
tugging at the line of thread
that had followed her
from the stabbing switch in the cavern
known as the basement.

Silence surrounded her
and she could think clearly.

Silence surrounded her
and she could hear the nothingness of everything.

Silence surrounded her
while she rocked and wrapped her wrists.


With daylight came footsteps
that scuttled
in every direction.

Cobweb-covered wrists,
she stood up,
thoughts wrapped in wool blankets.

She walked towards
the stabbing switch,
running a single finger along the wall.

She climbed the stairs
and joined them in silence.
They screamed and cajoled:
there were cobwebs on her wrists.

Silently she cried
until they left her alone.

Silently she climbed
the steep stairs to her room.

Sleep was always safest
when the sun was at its brightest.


When the sun began to cool,
she woke up.
She stayed on her bed.
She listened.

Silence surrounded her,
but she couldn’t think

Silence surrounded her,
but she could hear the songs sung
by unvoiced birds.

The stomping,
the banging,
up above her head
amplified the uproarious silence.

She took a ladder
and climbed
into the attic.

She looked through the fog
of dancing dust particles
and saw nothing.

The stomping and banging resounded
throughout the softly insulated attic.
She retreated to her room
and climbed through her window
out onto the tree’s branch.
She pulled herself up
and walked on the rooftop.
Nothing greeted her.

She stood in silence and watched
the log-sized branches sweep the roads.

She listened to the rapid sweeping
of the leaves, the rustling discussions,

and the occasional
creaking of age.


She slipped
back indoors
and sat
on her bed.

Silence surrounded her,
but she still couldn’t think

Silence surrounded her,
but now
she couldn’t move.

Silence surrounded her
and then warm breath blew on the back
of her neck
once, twice.


Someone behind her inhaled
and exhaled
putting her into a trance
of calm.

Arms wrapped around her.
She looked down.
There was nothing there.

A face rested on her shoulder.
She turned her head slightly to touch it.
There was nothing there.

She looked
through the corner
of her eyes.


She was alone
wrapped in warmth,
wrapped in joy,
wrapped in love.

It was the first time.
She closed her eyes
to hang on to this feeling.
She closed her eyes
to make it last forever.
If only this could last forever.

She felt it all slip away:
the head,
the arms,
the breath,
even the cobwebs on her wrists.

She ran through the house.
She was alone
in a desolately dark house.


They would be back soon,
especially he would be back soon.


Perhaps the rocking chair.


She opened the door
to the steep stairs
that lead to a void
darker than any black hole.

Danielle Wong was born in the wide open prairies with clear, blue skies, but live in a big city in the East that is filled with rain and ice. She is an emerging writer who writes poetry and short stories to even out her software code writing days. Some of her work can be found in The 2016 Poetry Marathon Anthology, The 2017 Poetry Marathon Anthology, and in various Polar Expressions Publishing anthologies.

1 thought on “‘Upstairs’ by Danielle Wong”

  1. […] What poem did I decide to read? Well, I decided to read Upstairs, which was originally published on the online literary journal Soft Cartel. It is based on a recurring nightmare. I thought by writing it out, it might make it go away once and for all. Originally, I tried to write the recurring nightmare as a spooking or horror flash fiction since I always woke up winded from it. The more I looked at it, the more I revised it, the more I realized it was not flash fiction. It was a poem. Granted, it is a rather long poem, although not in the traditional sense of a long poem. A real long poem is usually between 3600 and 7200 words. Upstairs is a measly 362 words. […]


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