Ladders aren’t meant for climbing

Well, they could be towel ladders ๐Ÿ˜ƒ so this is a story that makes me smile even today. When I remember Stefano, a carpenter in Nairobi who constructed them for me, my eyes gleam in fond delight. Wherever he may be now, I hope the light is always bright for him. We still have three of the four ladders he made for us, here in our home in the US.

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You sauntered in like one of those blues men of the Mississippi / as if you would improvise further on the Jacaranda weather / and wore an amused grin at my foreign Swahili as I knitted numbers into measurements / making syllables linger in mid sentence / scrambling for punctuation and the words after / but everyone loves conversations in places where the sun burns for banter / and here I was, arguing for ladders that weren’t meant for climbing //

Wood wasted in hanging towels you winced / then you enjoyed my weak attempts to stutter meaning to such a claim / Your voice lilted into a river song / upstream, downstream, to a montage of dhows stuck at the mouth / Respect was always a measure of tone in these places / the nod of the head / the grin / the smile / everything but the words //

My little slip of paper you relegated to the logic of your memory / that promptly forgot you placed it in your trouser pocket like my detailed instructions / Four ladders later, you arrived on a day far into the future that wasn’t told my calendar / but the towels weren’t planning a trip anytime soon //

Solid soft wood you sawed by hand and sanded by the sweat of your brow / like in the age of spears and stones / to gather into that / which if man were to climb a rung, the next would not obey any law of ladders / You imagined a long towel / a short towel / and then a longer towel perhaps / I laughed at myself / How come I didn’t imagine the same as well / That’s why I keep your ladders / Towels are not the same as legs and feet / and towels needn’t go anywhere //

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For the life of me I couldn’t understand the arrangement of rungs on these ladders with gaps of 14, 16.5, 22 and 12 inches between them. He thought he had done a wonderful job and I didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise so I changed my logic to embrace his I think. We still have the ladders and they bring a smile to my face even so. ๐Ÿ™‚

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