Crumbling Steps

To an uncertain summit

Jim Dutton
The Lark Publication
2 min readAug 30, 2023


Stairway in Castiglioncello, Italy — Original image — credit: Jim Dutton

Finish college, get a job, then marriage
start a family, raise the kids, and flourish
retire, travel, and grow old together
meet again in heaven, or wherever.

That was the plan, our steps to be happy
each one a ratchet on our long journey
steadily climbing toward perfection
always moving in the right direction.

But that’s not how it happened, is it, babe?
We skipped some of those steps along the way
have a baby, get married, find a job
tend the kids, pay the bills, and mind the boss.

We thought there’d be time to do what we’d missed
to go back and take the steps that we skipped
choices aplenty in those early days
not all of them good ones, but anyway…

Side by side, we made our way up the path
through crowds of detractors who jeered and laughed
shouldering past those who more slowly climbed
struggling strangers who soon fell behind.