Arpa d’or dei fatidici vati, perché muta dal salice pendi?

They light it up at night, the big stupid ladder.

For the longest time, I didn’t notice. It’s a dull light, an orange light, like the city’s glow warming its rungs. It’s not that, though. There’s a dim pair of floods set into the median, and they give it a halfhearted shine.

They should make him live here, the artist, the one who did that ladder. He should see, oh, I don’t think he’s stood here. He can’t have walked through this neighbourhood, marked its character. I look out my window, and it’s moss-soft out there, pine-shrouded mountains, waves of green, forest and haze packed in Styrofoam clouds. I’m not good at these kinds of pictures, but here. Here it is. Kingsway and Gladstone—

—and Kingsway and Gladstone and ladder.

It doesn’t go, y’know? It’s all stodgy, industrial-like…like Dickens’s London splayed over the Riverbank, Oliver Twistin’ in the Wind in the Willows, and what kind of title is that? It’s encroachment, man. Encroachment’s what it is.

I wish I could take a better picture. I wish I could show what I see. There’s gulls out there wheeling in this pink conch-shell sky, with the last of the sun in their feathers. There’s bright layers of mountains with the farthest ones faded to gold, the nearest indigo. There’s the breeze in the leaves, and the whole forest’s rippling. You should see it, like light on the water, bright white and yellow where the rays hit the green. It’s the sea of my youth, if I squint. Prestwick in summer, and that great stupid ladder.

I’m surprised no-one’s tagged it, pinned ads to its sides. It’s bare. Even vandals won’t touch it.

I shouldn’t complain. It’s only a ladder.

People stop and look and shake their heads. They don’t take pictures.

Nowhere feels like home.

PS – I should’ve posted the ladder and the words to Va, pensiero, and left it at that. O, mia patria, sì bella e perduta! O, membranza sì cara e fatal!

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