John’s Ladder
It lies waiting
to the low platform
on the North East corner
of the pier
A swimming ladder
painted and installed
for year-round use
It lies waiting
for John
to climb up dripping
from his annual
New Years dip
A big man
the ladder takes his weight
proud to be
of use
Or summer dips
after the crowds
of social chatter
have slurped down
Jimmy’s last
little neck
or Mike’s last
rum and tonic
or Julie’s last bit
of finger food
John strips down
and dives right in
The cool clean
harbor water creases as he
swims a slow and lazy arc
back to the
corner of the pier
back to his ready ladder
As it feels John’s weight
it sighs a bit
proud to bear
this good
solid man
Up and out
dripping in the
slowly dimming day

John knew well
his last swim
And as he slowly drifted
from Caroline
and Maggie
the guys at Lounge
on Friday afternoons
as he saw Jimmy
drift off in the rip
John knew well
as he climbed out
wet and
tingling in that
New Year’s
steaming chill
This sure was
his last dip
The last climb
up this ladder
And with all graciousness
all the love
he held inside
all John had to give
he reached out
he held us
in his slow arc
As he climbed up and out
he carried all of us
up with him