If the ladder is a woman, the very first ladder, the ladder that goes down into the sea where all the words we make float unnamed in warmth, that ladder is she. In a room where all the cherry blossoms float by the long windows, but we are not blossoming, we are diving, first divers, into the airless world of poems, a ladder that is a woman comes to us, and she helps us go downward. The ladder has rungs made up of a long time of being forgotten. How can a ladder become a ladder if it is never used? Never named? The ladder tells us of the myths we need to know, of the cargo we must carry, of the grotesque and the good. The ladder whispers some of the quieter ordinary words of life, coffee pot and daylight, and tells us we can use them however we want, they mean so many things. The ladder doesn’t care where we have come from, the ladder says we have all come from history, dripping years off our skin like thick oily water. The ladder desires us to know that desire has been taught to us, through the world, through the letters, through the cage of cages. The ladder goes deeper than we want at first, into the blood of the heart, the particles of the bone, and sometimes the ladder doesn’t care if we cry about it. The ladder is both a she and he at times, and wants no skin at all, and wants us to not have skin, but to go beyond skin. “What is beyond skin?” Asks the ladder, and being so young, and so out of air, we do not know how to answer. “What is below the self of you?” Asks the ladder, and not knowing anything but what our parents named us, we stare at the ladder and blink. “Don’t tremble so much,” says the ladder, so we turn the page and avoid eye contact with the ladder, until it is impossible not to follow it, until all we can do is go where the ladder leads us, farther into the fathomless, where all the new words of the new us begin.
Note: “There is a ladder./The ladder is always there,” from “Diving into the Wreck,” “Cage of cages,” from “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law.”