The wires between house and garage
could slice you as you fall, ladder a useless

set of rungs; the mailbox could
impale you, so I implore: no

roof chores. When it’s gutter time,
I stand beneath the ladder,

uncertain anchor. My father,
blond child, held his position

as ladder-bracer, even when
my grandfather threw

chunks of gutter-rot down. That’s why
his hair is brown, they joke.

Your hair has darkened, too,
with gray I notice

only up close. I try to forget
the warnings from the nightly news:

melanomas and meningitis,
West Nile virus and high

triglycerides. I hold your ladder
to hold myself steady. Your sweat,

salt-heavy, drips down my cheek,
darkens my shirt. You grunt

with the effort of keeping
our house in order.

My pulse jitters every time
the ladder shifts, and I ignore

the graceful mosquito skittering
on my arm, finding purchase, digging in.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

To experience the full archive, log in or subscribe now.

Related Poetry



Ricardo Pau-Llosa

Learning the Crawl


Fleda Brown

Orpheus in the Garden


Andrew Hudgins


Deus ex Machina


Claude Wilkinson

Pin It on Pinterest