Dan Bellm

Jacob’s ladder

The young man and woman waiting for the trolley
turn, and spy me treading the Stairmaster
two flights up, and exchange a smile, or really 
a smirk, at the man who’s climbing nowhere, faster
and faster as the machine demands, death
written on his face, and vanity, and folly.

I remember their effortless scorn—ideally 
proportioned as their bodies, gone in a breath—
both of them indestructible, both of them smoking—
but do not admire it, and they want to be admired.
I myself was deathless; now, provoking-
ly, I’m fifty-seven, flabby, easily tired

yet easily grateful, burning calories like prayers
to heaven, climbing the unending stairs.

Vayetze, Genesis 28:10–32:3