Do you recall the moment
you were introduced to the ladder?
Maybe you were sat on the ground,
forced to squint against the sun
while they pointed out some lofty goal.
Or maybe you were placed on a rung,
lifted by loving arms while you judged
the distance you'd have to fall
if you took just one wrong step.
No wonder you want to defend it,
all the hours you climbed and fretted,
the blistered hands from grasping
and lifting, bruised shins from slipping.
No wonder your fingers instinctively curl
when I tell you: that ladder never existed.
No wonder you cling so tightly that your nails
press false woodgrain into your flesh
until that imaginary position is as
identifying as your own handprint.
If only you'd look around you'd see
those cuts and scrapes weren't in vain;
it's no shame to trip on the uneven ground,
and so much easier to get up again.
Without the dizzying vertigo of ascent
you'll see how far you've come compared
not to everyone walking by your side,
but to that unique place you started from.