Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
print version


     after The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Mt. Sinai

My skeleton is steady and my body moves
against the black. When the devils fall, I hear them falling—

At first, the only sounds are my hands
releasing and grasping, my feet hushing against the rungs

my hands have passed over. I think I am going up. The ladders tilt away
from me and where one ends, I take up another. Wings of the devils flap.

Cloak of my skin taut to muscle, muscle
a cloak for bone, bone a cloak for—?

If the ladders do not go up, I am lost. Have I stuffed my soul
into the marrow? I hear the shoosh, shoosh when they fall—

If they fall, have their wings failed them? Maybe they are falling up,
flying, maybe I climb across but never up, maybe I am

a devil who knows only her body, who listens only
to her body moving through space, never pausing, rushing through

this black field of air. Hand on a rung, another. Beneath that sound is
something softer, the sound of calluses forming on my hands and feet.  end

return to top