At first
I couldn’t climb the old wooden ladder
round pegs to the storage loft
afraid I’d fall out the window
tree tops, three stories high.
Then, one cold night
desperate for my comforter
I braved it
froze at the last step
but only as long
as a prayer
not as bad as
the Vatican Dome
after climbing up
and up
single file stairs
to the sudden opening
only a thin rail
between me and 400 feet below
I backed up to the wall
slid to my knees on the cold tile floor
paralyzed
until one kindhearted
talked me back to the stairs
told me,
“It happens sometimes,
It’s really the empty space 
that scares people,
not the height.”

Today, I’m up and down this ladder
above those trees that bend to the wind
stuffing old blankets, drapes,
bedspreads from my mom,
too big, too small, jeans and jackets
into plastic bags for donating
tossing them to the floor below
each thud a relief
as I look back
at the empty space I’m creating
without fear.

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