The Maintenace of Ladders
The tide is low and you can see most of the boat’s ladder,
slimy and green below the high tide mark,
dry and growing brittle above,
subject to sun and salt each day, no matter the weather.
The ladder is the way up, the way out
from the fishing boats that populate this pier.
No matter the undertow below,
no matter the direction.
There are other materials that might last longer
than the locust wood used to make the rungs and stringers,
materials less susceptible to the slow death
of the seaside docks,
But the wood ladder remains. When it fails,
another one will take its place,
new wood gleaming for a week or two
before turning grey,
the persistence of weather taking its toll.
But the wood has a certain feel. A realness
that resonates to these men of the sea,
a trueness to who they are, and the all too real
world they live in.
It will remain their material of choice,
a thing you can run your hand over
and feel the truth of life, that it comes
and goes, that age takes its toll,
and maintenance is everything.
About this poem
About ladders. About relationships. About faith.
The picture was taken on the fishing docks in Provincetown, MA.