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The Ladders

I was climbing risky rope ladders,
slowly, step by step, nearing the topmost rung
of the topmost ladder, it was some sort of quest.
I knew the reward was waiting at the peak.

Then sleep ejected me, the landscape shrank
like a spot of light imploding, the dream
unraveling like a seam joining two worlds,
though a trace of honeysuckle hung in the air
and my hands still stung from the prickly ropes.
What I sought wasn't a thing but a place. Somewhere
to go home to, where I'd never been.

Night after night I plunge into sleep
braced for the climb, the wobbly rungs,
the rough ropes searing my soles and palms.
I will know what I seek when I reach it.

Lynne Sharon Schwartz

No Way Out But Through
University of Pittsburgh Press

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