By night I climb the scaffold.
Step, step, metallic uncertainty,
the slip-threat hanging, torch swaying,
an angler-fish bait hovering in the thickened air.
Its pool hits grass and rough-stoned walls.
Its pool hits slate, each square a sheaf pressed hard by time,
layering the roof, book-like, each a story in itself.
By night I settle my back on planks elevated
to greatness, a lifeboat up high,
mortar dust skimming my clothes.
Cold pins me down, bone-deep, empty.
I settle and stare, plunging deep to the world above,
the night sky a pool, a clarity hanging still,
a vertigo waiting to happen. Each star
a point of magnitude too great, too small,
to be believed. Each star caught, still,
a point in a scatter of billions, billions
of miles between us, too profound
to be likened to mundane things.
Ice-cold, they seem, remote and frozen
but each a maelstrom in itself, watching,
I think that making love in this
cold thin air, high up, pressed by stars,
pressed by scaffold boards powdered with mortar,
would be an explosive thing. It would
be a tumbling on the edge, quick, cold,
vital, once-in-a-lifetime. Impossible.