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Ladder of Loss

by Blake Kilgore

Your neighbors were beautiful
with trunks wide and smooth
their verdant canopies colored you
blue, grave
in your solitude

thin branches danced around your belly
yearning for sun glow fuel
but they were weak, crowded out
wrenched by drizzle and gale

those tumbled children
fell prey
to mushrooms and mold and moss
now only twisted grey tombstones recall
ballads un-sung by their loss

your rough skin is covered
with scars
from earth to sky
the swollen, crooked
ladder of loss
is hard

defeat centered you, though
hope churned at your core
swelling upward, straight and true, ‘til your
fingers stretched past hindering cover
of interlinked swarms that grope
and smother

Rejoice, o gnarled sylvan sage!

now first to sup waves of glimmer dawn morn
now first to drink eventide charms
first to taste moonlight, star gleam
or gloom
first to see soul crushing storms

so searchers, so climbers, so nomads, they rise
because you are ugly, because you are wise
handholds and footholds, your loss is their link
to grandeur beyond, the cavernous deep
of longing

they’re mounting your sadness, grateful

you endured.


Blake Kilgore grew up in Tornado Alley, spending most of his first three decades in Texas and Oklahoma. Now, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and four sons, where he’s just completed his 21st year teaching history to junior high students. That’s how his love for story began—recounting the (mostly) true stories from olden times. Eventually, he wanted to tell stories of his own, and you can find some of these in Lunch Ticket, Stonecoast Review, Midway Journal, Rathalla Review, Crack the Spine and other fine journals. To learn more, go to Read his previous work in Deep South here.

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