Ode to Stairmaster

Jess Smith

Dear ladder to nowhere, dear Escher sketch

made manifest, thank you for allowing

my broke, hungover body to climb you, an

oblivious ascension, lifting the crescent

of my ass so it doesn’t drag on the floor

like it feels like doing most days, mostly

when the wind carries a crisp apple scent

and in my other life I would have put on

his sweater, cranked the thermostat up

for the first time in the season. Thank you,

Stairmaster, you burned-down house

with only a staircase remaining, for letting me

pretend there are still bedrooms at the top

I can enter, children I need to wake in time

for pancakes. Thank you for making me hotter

in the loneliest way, for your attached screen

on which I watch endless loops of mindless

TV on silent, listening instead to sex-pop

songs with a thick beat, reminding myself

of the task underfoot, believing that if T-Pain

could see me, he’d be into it, maybe

serenade me from the top of the hill

I’ll never reach. Girl it must be a crime

to be as fine as you. Thank you, T-Pain.

Thank you, heavy bass. And thank you, dear,

metal, gaping mouth whose teeth I scale

every day, whose black mechanics are just

what a heartless girl like me needs, you

who agree that the artless progression

toward improved-nudity-viewing is a worthy

pursuit. Dear body, dear ass, dear ever-harder

heart — I owe it all to you, Stairmaster. Don’t

give up on me now. I’m not even close.

about the author