When there's plenty of time

And everything can be fixed,

If we only understand,

Find the right materials and tools,

We can build stronger than Poseidon,

Much higher than Nimrod,

Practice climbing for its own sake

And enjoy it as its own reward.

But when we've had a longer, better look

At the work in progress, we see

Stairs that, as in Piranesi, climb to nothing,

Stairs for their own sake-

Even if more flights are planned.

But at some point the knees rebel,

Are tired of climbing,

Even for fine views.

This can't be what was meant,

And so, temptation to belief,

With all its dreadful implications

Of palinode, confession,

Dismantling of the self-

Knowing the alternative

Is stairs one has learned better than to climb,

Unbelief needing less help all the time.

Jim Kerbaugh