I was feeling tired, a bit anxious,
a bit fed up with everyone.
And every day, wherever I went,
I could see these dear little ladders,
leaning up against walls.
Have you come across them?
Such nice, sturdy-looking little ladders,
everywhere.

And one day I thought:
“I wonder what’s up this little ladder!”
and I put my foot on the first rung.
And I stood on the first rung;
with both feet off the ground…
and already,
(just even one step off the ground),
I was leaving my troubles behind…
I was alone,
and everything looked different.
and better.
Even on that first rung.

And I didn’t go high that first day,
I had people to see.
But the next time I saw one of those
dear little ladders
I went up a bit more.
And it was extraordinary, because
everything looks different,
you know;
and it’s much quieter,
even when you’re only a little way up;
as if the things happening on the ground –
and the people – are nothing to do with you.

And I thought then:
“I can be alone, and I can escape
up one of this dear little ladders
whenever I choose!”
It was the most wonderful feeling.

To begin with I didn’t go very high.
I’d come back down and go on with things.
But solid ground felt even harder
after those trips up into the air
and soon I hated coming down
And gradually, I got up so high that
I couldn’t hear what was happening down there.
I could hear people calling up to me;
their voices,
but I didn’t get what they were saying.
I was too far away, you see?
And I didn’t come down to listen
because it was out of this world up there;
completely out of it.

And a time came when, I think,
they didn’t call me any more
or anyway I couldn’t hear them at all.
It was all silent, but for the wind wailing.
No parents calling.
No children, no friends…
nothing.
All alone in the clouds
with the wind blowing
and my ladder beginning to sway;
for I was miles up now.

And for the first time I looked down.
And I couldn’t see my home.
I couldn’t see where I lived.
God, I couldn’t see anything.

And for the first time I thought:
God, I’m stuck!
I’m stuck!
I want to go home.
I want to go home, but I’ve gone too far
and what if I fall, while descending, and smash?
I can’t let go of the ladder.
All I can do is hold to this
bloody ladder.

And I was clinging on,
to this bleeding ladder,
terrified and all alone
and screaming and screaming in fear
and heard, I thought, by no-one,
no-one.

And a voice very near me said:
Let go of your ladder

“Don’t be stupid!” I said,
(though who I was talking to was beyond me)
“this bloody ladder is all I have.
If I let go, I will smash and die.”
And the voice said:
You will only die if you hold on.

And I said:
“You don’t understand.
This is all I’ve got to hold on to.”
And the Voice said:
Trust me.
There is nothing I don’t understand.
Let go of your lonely little ladder.

And I said to the Voice:
“Who are you?”
and the Voice answered:

I AM all you’ve got.

© Lucy Berry