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Steven Salardino

Now We're Really On Our Way

"Let's build a ladder," I said.

He came over and we began to work. I had already purchased two ten foot length two-by-fours and a twelve foot wooden pole with a 1½ inch diameter. I had a saw but his was sharper so he cut the pole into 14 inch lengths and I used my drill to make holes in the two-by-fours. Each rung would be one foot apart so I had to drill nine sets. I'd say the temperature was around eighty degrees and there was hardly a wind. We were working in the driveway and the sawdust just collected there. Some of it covered our arms and legs and got in our hair. The smell was fresh, not like a forest, but like a backyard or a picnic.

After the sawing and drilling we placed the rungs in the holes of one of the two-by-fours. As he held that two-by-four steady with the rungs pointing straight up I placed the other two-by-four on top of it, carefully hammering it down where the fit was too tight.

Now that the rungs were all in place it looked like a finished ladder but we had to secure it. This was done by hammering 1¼ inch nails into the thin side of the two-by-four. The nail was lined up to go through the place where the rung entered the side of the ladder thus insuring the rung would not somehow pop out when in use.

"Looks pretty sturdy," he said.

"Let's try it out," I said.

"You first," he said.

He held it for me and I climbed straight up into the air. It felt freeing and exciting. When I got to the top I jumped off and hit the ground hard and with a thud. My knees were scraped and my head hurt but I wanted to try it again so I climbed up and when I got to the top jumped off again. This time my nose started to bleed.

Then I held the ladder for him. I braced myself and he climbed gracefully and without pause. His hands held each rung firmly and I could feel the vibrations from each step travel through the wood into my own arms. At the top he jumped also but unlike me he somehow floated. He just kept going higher and higher, up and over the garage and completely out of view.

Steven Salardino has a BA from San Francisco State, an MFA from CalArts, and has contributed to such art/text publications/events as "The Deck of Chance", "Blind Date", and most recently to "Song Poems" opening at the New York gallery of Cohan, Leslie, and Browne in June 2001. He lives in Los Angeles with many old typewriters and ukuleles.

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