The Ladder

By Mundy Walsh

ladder-823620_1280I was in Ireland last month helping my parents fix the flat roof of their shed. It was a cloudy day and I could see a field of corn behind the tall Beech hedge which separates us from our nearest neighbors—and their clothes line of souvenir tea-towels.

We had to lift a section of the roof and repair some of the rafters. There was a long ladder on one side of the shed, which extended high in the air, and would have enabled me to step directly onto the roof. But alas, I’ve seen enough cartoons to know what happens when you perch at the top of a tall ladder, arse to the wind.

Instead, I used the older, stouter ladder that, when I stood on the final step, made me waist high with the roof. From there I could climb up like a monkey. Albeit a monkey with matching bruises on her shins and a worrisome rip in the crotch of her trousers.

I started reading King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard while in Ireland (in truth, I still am—speed-reading is not my forte). I found it on a book shelf, one of those Penguin Classic special editions with the pale green and white cover; a copy I bought years ago. The paper is recycled and the ink regularly smudges as I hold it, and I often leave finger prints on the pages, especially during the August heat of my apartment in Florence. At first this annoyed me, as I am one of those people about books, but now I don’t mind that sometimes I can see miniature letters on the tips of my fingers.

I am reading a lot of adventures lately, perhaps because I am restless. Something new is percolating, as it does every 5 years, to make me want… more. I may not actually do anything once midnight strikes on the fifth year but there will be an irritating rub like sand in the sock, making me remember the last time I swam in the freezing, windswept Altantic. Deja vu in the corner of my mind, next to the chocolate, making me ask myself when I last took a flight to a place I didn’t know. Church bells that tap me on the shoulder—every day at 8am—to say, ‘Well…?‘. I feel familiar and yet foreign, as once again, my mind, body and soul are fighting over the car keys.

In the meantime, a trip into the African desert in search of Soloman’s diamonds sounds just the trick: ‘For a while we tramped on in silence, til Umbopa, who was marching in front, broke into a Zulu chant about how some brave men, tired of life and the tamenss of things, started off into a great wilderness to find new things, or die, and how, lo and behold! when they had travelled far into the wilderness, they found that it was not a wilderness at all, but a beautiful place full of young wives and fat cattle, of game to hunt and enemies to kill.’

The question is though, which ladder? Will I be high and proud, knickers flying, or low but secure with the occasional bruise?

mwShort Bio: From Ireland, Mundy has been living in Florence for four years working as the Administrator of St Mark’s and Artist Director of St Mark’s Cultural Association. Florence Writers was created from within this cultural association, providing events and workshops for writers. She is also co-Founder and Editor of a quarterly e-journal called The Sigh Press (www.thesighpress.com), author of one book, sketcher of small objects, and hoarder of watches.

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