“I want! I want!” cries the figure climbing up the skinny ladder,
such a long climb to be filled with wanting, such a long
shadow cast onto the surface of the ground
while the ladder sips like a straw from the moon
it leads to, here as tiny as a rind of fingernail, suspended
in the night William Blake scratched and darkened
save for seven fuzzy stars. It looks like punishment:
you hook your leg on the third rung and look up,
such a long climb for what you lack. It must be said twice
to show how saying does not in fact release it.
Perhaps, after climbing, you will reach the reclining crescent
and sleep upon it like a hammock before you realize that home
is the barren moon below: beautiful, light-reflecting,
but missing you. And if wanting is a ladder between
two moons, then the stars will hang neglected.
Surely Blake made the print no larger than a playing card
so that the ladder could lean without tearing
a paper sky gently pierced by stars.
Reprinted from Cusp (Mariner-Houghton Mifflin, 2003) by permission of the author.