“Despite her [Marie Bracquemond] gifts, despite her striving, despite her enthusiasm, the day came when with an obscure feeling of grief, she had to confess herself beaten.”
— Jean-Paul Bouillon, “Marie Bracquemond: The Lady with the Parasol” (Women Impressionists, p. 242).
Never met a ladder I liked –
not the trap door pull-down device
to my childhood attic, nor the sketchy plywood versions
in construction sites where my brothers hid
and snickered as we circled below, our bikes
tied outside like royal steeds.
But that never stopped me
hauling myself up, hand over hand, until
I reached the upper limits, and could rest
hands on hips, as if lord
of all I surveyed below.
Blame it on grandma who climbed
a ladder at 82 to prune her trees,
and fell, breaking her back in two places
then recovering in one sweet week, as if
such a fall only required dusting oneself off,
then retying your apron strings.
Never met a ladder that made me sad
until I saw Woman on a Stepladder –
why did you stop drawing?
—-response to Marie Bracquemond Woman on a Stepladder, 1882 (private collection; printed in Women Impressionists p. 243)