Skip to main content

Filled With Ladders, the World, a poem by Wendy Vergoz with painting by Sofiya Inger

Filled With Ladders, the World
by Wendy Vergoz

My father’s hands hold metal legs,
I on the ladder’s penultimate rung
My father’s hands hold metal legs,
I scoop wet leaves from the rooftop gutter,
first-house gutter, wet brown leaves,
soft green moss. I pry the screen off, sharp,   
slide my fingers underneath, my fingers which,    
long ago held white string, Jacob’s ladder.     

Strong-girl hands with slender fingers hold
Cat’s Cradle, Jacob’s ladder
she climbs from seeds, from the singing bell
the ringing bell, the bicycle bell
the sweet-girl voice counts
the ball and jacks singing
Jacob’s ladder, fingering string and jacks                   
and feet lift from the ground           
to jump the rope to count to sing to lift                       
past faces, past light, the faces are the light
voices present voices past
rise past singing ringing fingers hands

Solid as stone the ground, light as flowers her feet
ascend descend, spill through time like purple flowers

My father’s hands hold metal stems
and purple flowers spill through time
we float through time on singing bells
and ringing bells, the ball and jacks           
—the ball and chain pull us down
how dreadful is this place where tiny men would
pull us down, we float up past
my mother’s face, your mother’s voice   
the voices of our mothers
lift us sing us ring us past the sun and moon
the stars at night ascend descend and rise again          
The world is filled with my father’s hands
my mother’s voice, the rungs of the crib    
your father's hands free you from
the rungs of your crib, we float we lift   
ascend through time, time present, time past
—the ball and chain a nightmare dream
as we float through the purple flowers        
the ball becomes a singing bowl
a ringing bell, the chain a string a seed a stem
the ball and jacks, the jumping rope
the faces stars the faces moons, they lift me sing me                 
ring me toward or ring me through          
the girlhood string of Jacob’s ladder
Jacob’s gate, we float we rise        
through purple-flowered strings of time
how dreadful is that darkened place, those tiny men
will never hold us down                 

My father’s hands and mother’s voice       
your mother’s hands and father’s voice
my daughter’s hands, my son’s voice
strong as stone and sweet as bells
the singing voice, the ringing voice      
the world is filled with voices past and voices now   
singing bells and ringing bells
voices light leaves and bells        
suns and moons and purple flowers    
Jacob’s ladders fill the world, daughters sons
stems and seeds, the world is filled with
ladders made from faces light
and moss-rich earth        this place is filled with
I dreamt it on stone        angels

      Bio: Wendy Vergoz is an assistant professor of English at Marian University. Her poems have appeared
in The Christian Century and Anglican Theological Review, and her poem "Unfinished, A Found Poem," written 

after 9/11, was read on the first anniversary of the attacks at churches in five different states. Vergoz 

      participated  in “Arts Kaleidoscope: Art, Poems, and Videos,” an exhibition of visual art and ekphrastic poems at Gallery 308 in Muncie, Indiana.

"The World Is Filled With Ladders," acrylic on board, by Sofiya Inger.