Jacob’s Ladder

Poverty is hard to see
While growing up on toast and tea
I barely noticed its effect
We just got on with duties set

By those so practised to command
Unquestioning of task in hand
Until completed, so to bed
To rest our weary hearts and head

Yet catching toes on higher rung
While hearing others’ praises sung
I somehow over trod my groove
And moorings slipped, my mind did move

No longer cowed by sleight of birth
Unbending under weight and girth
I grasped this hook and pulled to see
What might be made with dignity

But not too far the ladder scaled
Before another turned and wailed
Unfairness at disparity
From what expectant they did see

As unbecoming in my stance
Though well-deserving of such chance
They wanted none with conscience there
Though they complained of life, unfair

With unchecked rage did rant and rave
Until they slipped, unseated save
For what was caught upon a nail
Until seams ripped and with a flail

Of arms and legs undignified
The other fell and so, he died
Unsettled, I, to see all eyes
So arid at this man’s surprise

I dared not breathe too long, nor loud
For fear they’d pick me from the crowd
Yet someone noted, by my air
I must have learned somehow to share

Instinctive camaraderie
Betrayed by actions that were ‘me’
Compassion at another’s fate
Too great my mercy, theirs too late

So shoved and pushed to halt my course
I stayed astride the ladder, worse
To know that I was caught, stuck fast
Between those who’d be first and last

In mind and stomach more than sick
To know such wealth might kill me quick
For feeling what they could not taste
Another’s worth and common waste

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7 thoughts on “Jacob’s Ladder

  1. Your doing it again! Just when I think I’m getting a handle on this verse thing you leave me at the starting gate – he goes forth, head bowed and wanders into the harsh cold of a with terms evening defeat the only thing on his mind………..

    • It is funny the things auto-correct can insert. I quite like the concept of a ‘with terms’ evening. It sounds as though there might be strings attached, but they are fairly explicit…

      • As Yoda might have said, ‘clever you are.’ Goodnight Vienna. As a confirmed insomniac I am off to read Hemingway and hopefully sleep as wife hits me about the cranium saying the dishes need ‘doing’ whatever that means or has ever meant!

  2. Talk about being stuck between the rock and proverbial hard place… This poem leaves me breathless, Katherine.

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