The first thing you do is check the building for square.
Below, hoary-headed masons, who’ve never laid
eyes on you, tidy away tools, shove lukewarm
bottles of stout between tight lips
and spy you prizing the dumb harmony
left by the lump hammer, trowel and plumb line,
slung to the bottom of an old tool-box-cum-stool
snapped shut just in time for lunch.
Depending on the weather, deal wall plates
slap or clonk into place. They’re butted together,
and what’s sticking out’s trimmed
by the teeth of a savage oil-spitting chain.
A ridge poll is offered up to the empty heavens.
But lean rafters, like joined hands, are
raised in reverence to Pythagoras,
who was one of us.
Now crackling felt is rolled out, bobbling along a lath.
With a pencil poised on one ear, you make your way
to the apex, careful not to puncture this sealed hold
of silence inside: quiescence to be sold, owned and passed
down to the youngest son.
Take your time as you alight from the lashed ladder,
hit the ground before the evening’s first rain;
tomorrow you will do it all again.