Carrying a Ladder

Kay Ryan


Carrying a Ladder

Kay Ryan


Poem introduction

Usually I don't write from inspiration, I just sit down and write. But in this case I was lying in bed and I suddenly have this vision that everybody in the world was carrying a ladder. And it was a very moving thought to me, and it became this poem.

Carrying a Ladder

Carrying a Ladder

We are always
really carrying
a ladder, but it's
invisible. We
only know
something's
the matter:
something precious
crashes; easy doors
prove impassable.
Or, in the body,
there's too much swing or off -
center gravity.
And, in the mind,
a drunken capacity,
access to out-of-range
apples. As though
one had a way to climb
out of the damage
and apology.


'Carrying a Ladder’, from <i>The Niagara River</i> (Grove Press, 2005), © Kay Ryan 2005, used by permission of the author and Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

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