“The Ladder of Contemplation” by Jane Beal

literaturetodayMy poem, “The Ladder of Contemplation,” now appears in Literature Today 5 (2016), 27.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! Genesis 28:12


THE LADDER OF CONTEMPLATION

Sometimes the total madness of being human
makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
Like that acrobat-girl I saw on a Cirque du Soleil stage
in San Francisco: surrounded by smiling performers,
she could not pretend.

The ladders on that stage reached into the heights
of the circus tent, and men and women climbed them,
only to jump down, dancing in mid-air,
or bicycling upside down, or flipping and spinning
and landing, feet-first, on the trampoline

and bouncing back, reaching out to catch the ropes
swinging above their heads, like angels
who used to have wings, and still remembered
how to fly. So they went surging up
and plunging down, out of the abyss, back into heights. 

If only rising on the ladder of contemplation
were as easy as humility, illumination, and purity.

jb

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