the ladder is largely illiterate
and until recent times practiced

the ladder does not wear pockets
or nurse its young

accustomed to heights its rungs
are often found
at great altitudes
commonly amidst the detritus
of downspouts or growing
in crevices at the summit
of mansards

the ladder is readily domesticated
but reverts on occasion
to predatory ways
promiscuously devouring
footsteps and birds' eggs

a flight of ladders
loping over the veldt with
awkward though leisurely paces
is a noteworthy sight

shy when alone
a pride of ladders is capable
of a show of bravery
when protecting its young

the ladder is often entangled
in awnings where it may
by the amateur
be mistaken for the lesser scaffold
the distinctive mottling
differs sharply

the throat of the ladder suffers
from parasitic growths but
its only known natural enemy is
the high voltage wire

contrary to tradition ladders
do not commonly
lead to heaven

--- From Turns and Returns
George Hitchcock
©2002, Philos Press
524 Palm Street
Santa Rosa CA 95404
[Illustration by George Hitchcock]

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