now I donít know / if Mom
was joking / that the castle was built /
from the top down / the turrets
set first / on a scaffold / I was six /
it was Puerto Rico / it was our
last trip / before her first / sickness

but Mom laughed / when I called it
a castle / in the broad field /
in front / over the cliffs / over

the ocean / families / under kites /
the field itself / a measure to daunt
advancing armies / we were
drinking from coconuts / from the big seeds /
spiked with straws / hers spiked
with rum / she laughed / she said

no one lived here / this is a fortress /
there was no king / or queen

     *

The trick was to
set the stones flushówhen
the scaffold was removed
they would hold
each other up

     *

Flush: exact fit; ends meet just so
Flush: to discard down the toilet

     *

Question:
     For what is a ladder?

Who Iíve asked:
     5 - 6 friends last night over popcorn and scotch
     Mom this morning when I dropped off the contraband
     Eddie this morning over the phone
     You last night hovering over me when you
          insisted you were airborne

Answer (by consensus):
     For climbing

     *

today / at noon / on the roof / setting shingles
in order / end to end / tar going
soft in the sun / hands black / shoulders hot /
I thought

easy to believe /
the heat is a lever / which
cleaves / and severs

     *

Cleave: divide
Cleave: attach

     *

The label on my ladder says
metal ladder. A ladder: for climbing, ascent, as if there were no
coming down.

     *

What Iím thinking of is how that day Mom
lay in the shade of the big upside-down wall and said
it was too hot this was a good spot and I left her
there she was on her back she giggled
she was saying hot spot hot spot rot caught robot robot

This morning I left her in her room in bed
her eyes closed she giggled she said if it
happens today donít make a fuss tell them
I left on the 8 oíclock bus tell them I eloped with Alexander
the Pope and she said rub-a-dub-dub Iíll
never make it to the tub and she said
say nope to dope tomorrow just
bring a good piece of rope

     *

in the twentieth year / of her
dying / Mom puts the roach / in the toilet / pushes
the lever / my ladder is
an extension ladder / it climbs
its own rungs / Mom calls it my /
meta-ladder / sheíll say /
Curly Rea / climb on your ladder / and climb
away home

     *

Whatís funny is that Eddie never trusted the telephone
one afternoon I was suddenly sad sick
of the food sick of the heat so Mom let me
call him from a pay phone on the beach in San Juan
he said who is this I said Eddie
itís Curly Rea he said really who is this
I said Eddie really the phone went dead when I saw him
weeks later we were in my yard black hair sharp
elbows now I think even then
he looked famous he told me somebody had called
calling himself me the people on the phone he said
you have to be careful he was under the clothesline he was
reaching up to touch a yellow sock
theyíre never who they say they are those people
theyíre all the people who
have ever disappeared theyíre liars

?

but this morning / Eddie called early /
I was just heading out / I wanted
to tell you this / um /
look / hell / things just arenít
going well / I think I should have done
what Eddie did / left school / gone with the band /
their song on all
the stations / Nashville / Asheville /
Austin / all
over down there

last night / in bed /
tired / the fan abuzz / talk
turned cute / Curly Rea / Curly
Q / what do you
say / what do you do / I said /
I do love you / could it
be any hotter / I said
you should / please / go / get us
some water

and later / itís true /
you were flying above me / what I was thinking
is how / probably /
I should go ahead
and go / lately I feel deaf / and /
um / Eddie said
to meet him / he said no
problem / bring some money / lately
I think I should probably / go /
I love you / I love Mom

     *

Castle: palace
Castle: fortress

     *

But donít worry Iím only thinking
letís go to bed in the morning
Iíll leave for work if Eddie calls again donít
trust him his invitation gives him away
tell him I wonít be
able to make it down there
this year probably

     *

I asked him where / the people live /
who disappeared / he said
nowhere / they donít have houses /
we decided to build a castle / I knew
how / if we started with the roof /
they could be kings / they could
call / we would answer