David Welch


The Ladder

You look at the ladder leaning against


the tree where the bear sits hidden


amongst the crown of branches. You know


you can reach the bear. And you know, too,


the bear is dying of loneliness. You can see yourself 

climbing rung by rung until you enter the green 

sea of leaves above where the trunk begins 

to thin, can see your legs wrapping against the bark 

as your hands reach for surer holds. You


could climb higher above yourself


and remember how you spent your childhood 

in trees like this, though you never had to


brave bears, fire, winds blowing in across the country 

only to pass by whatever they touch.


That the bear is lonely is unimpeachable,


a sort of word you know must be connected


to a tree. You think of the bear hiding there and want 

to holler at him, or her. The thicket of fur guarding 

such willful paws, the sad eyes you know best


bred only in bears, who sleep with their sadness 

buried inside them all winter. This must be,


after all, why the bear is hiding there.


And that’s when it dawns on you: you’re still 

standing against the ground, the ladder rising


in front of you like a long winter,


and above it the warm breadth of the bear


breathing against the leaves, its body full


of everything you’ve yet to see. 

 

Welch Author Photo.jpg

AUTHOR BIO

DAVID WELCH IS THE AUTHOR OF THE COLLECTION EVERYONE WHO IS DEAD AS WELL AS A CHAPBOOK, IT IS SUCH A GOOD THING TO BE IN LOVE WITH YOU, AND HAS POEMS RECENTLY PUBLISHED IN JOURNALS INCLUDING FREE VERSE, PLEIADES, AND QUARTERLY WEST. HE TEACHES AT DEPAUL UNIVERSITY WHERE HE IS ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF Publishing & Outreach.