Jacob's Ladder

The editors of America are pleased to present the winner of the 2012 Foley Poetry Award, given in honor of William T. Foley, M.D.

When you are on the ladder with a paint brush
twenty feet of air between you and the ground
do not swing in anger or fear at the yellow jackets.

Advertisement

If angels are ascending and descending the ladder
of your spine let them stretch their strands of light
into the small spaces between the discs of bone.

When you notice the way your heart can lean
toward shadow pay attention to the story
you keep telling yourself as if it were the truth.

If you are keeping track of the times you
fold the laundry or take out the garbage
you are not an angel ascending or descending.

When you curse the baby bunny eating lettuce
from the garden it is time to notice and listen
how the angels sing of mercy and bread.

If the spider is crawling up your sleeve
use your opposable thumb and consider the vow
of the bodhisattva and the levels of humility.

When you forget to roll up the car window
before the rain storm think of each silver drop
as an angel descending with blessed reminders.

The author reads his poem here.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Nancy Walton-House
5 years 7 months ago
Beautiful, inspirational, challenging - a catalyst for growth.  Thank you, Gary Boelhower, for writing this poem and America Magazine for having the poet read it to us.  A treat to be sure!  I'm saving this one to read and reflect on in my dark days as I await the light.
5 years 7 months ago
I loved it! The lines are gripping, wrapping themselves around me supportively, lke the living twists of a vine reminding to "look before you leap" and so much more, fragrant with an attitude of gratitude, for me distinctively Eucharistic, whispering, shouting, bellowing GIVE THANKS! "Jacob's Ladder" is soothing flesh and blood, yet mystical, truly a holy communion!

  

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Democrats, and the Republicans who understand Dreamers are owed protection, could take a lesson from people of color around the country in how to navigate a political process tainted by racism. The lives of 800,000 Dreamers depend on it.
Antonio De Loera-BrustJanuary 22, 2018
“Separating fathers from families has been going on for a while. But now, even mothers are being separated from their children.”
J.D. Long-GarcíaJanuary 22, 2018
“I ask forgiveness,” the pope said on his flight from Lima to Rome. “It’s a hurt [caused] without wishing it.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 22, 2018