I store a lot of stuff on high shelves in my apartment and until recently relied on a rickety folding 2-step stool for quick access. As I’ve gotten older, I began to feel like I was playing with fire: the grim reality-sandwich of falling OFF a ladder has become something I don’t want to experience. I needed a light, foldable step stool I could hold onto as I climbed.

I’ve been really pleased with the light, strong Xtend & Climb 3 Step Slimline Ladder, which weighs an easy 10 pounds and folds to 2.5 inches. But the added surprise is that in Blue Sapphire, Red, and other colors, in addition to bare aluminum, it is so good looking, it can be left out.

A friend saw mine and bought one to use as his library ladder.

Worth every penny.

I love the ladder because it provides secure access to all the stuff I want to fix or store HIGH up, including file boxes of photographs, letters, memories…whole worlds, like Campbell McGrath’s poem, The Ladder (Listen to him read it here).

The past, a dust-covered shoebox recovered
from my mother’s attic, does not open easily.

Webs of duct tape, the ladder one must climb
into the unfinished attic, hot as a coffin—

going up the light bulb shatters
against my skull and the shadows deepen.

But in the end it yields, and photographs spill
across the kitchen table like playing cards.

She in her beautiful wedding dress,
my father in the uniform of youth.

There I am, with a cap gun and cowboy hat
on Christmas morning some geologic age ago.

Further in, deeper down
to the antique black-and-white images,

yellow-margined, crimped with age,
backed with carefully pencilled notes:

my grandmother beside the cottage in Donegal;
my grandfather, newly arrived in America,

on a New York City rooftop with two friends
nobody remembers the names of.

Donegal—that green archaism—
and Manhattan in the nineteen-thirties, polyglot dynamo,

all that was great about the twentieth century
fermenting in its democratic casks.

And there, in a battered Irish tintype,
is my great-grandmother, Margaret McGuire.

I’ve never seen her before.
I’ve never even thought to imagine her.

Widowed young, turned away
by her husband’s impoverished people,

with three daughters to raise
and only the needlework to keep them,

monogrammed handkerchiefs
and lace-edged linen tablecloths, a life

beyond my powers of narrative comprehension,
notations I cannot translate from ancient script.

Donegal derives from the Irish Dún na nGall,
Dún meaning fort or tower or castle,

and nGall meaning foreigner, outlander, stranger,
in memory of the conquerors who occupied it.

The Castle of the Stranger.
Which is another name for the past.

 

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