A Psalm for the Scaffolders

by Kim Moore


A Psalm for the Scaffolders

who balanced like tightrope walkers,

who could run up the bracing

faster than you or I could climb

a ladder, who wore red shorts

and worked bare-chested,

who cut their safety vests in half,

a psalm for the scaffolders

and their vans, their steel

toe-capped boots, their coffee mugs,

a psalm for those who learnt

to put up a scaffold standing

on just one board, a psalm

for the scaffolder who could put

a six-inch nail in a piece of wood

with just his palm, a psalm

for those who don’t like rules

or things taking too long, who now

mustn’t go to work uncovered,

who mustn’t cut their safety vests

or climb without ladders, who must

use three boards at all times,

a psalm for the scaffolders

who fall with a harness on,

who have ten minutes to be rescued,

a psalm for the scaffolder who fell

in a clear area, a tube giving way,

that long slow fall, a psalm for him,

who fell thirty feet and survived,

a psalm for the scaffolder

who saw him fall, a psalm for those

at the top of buildings, the wind whistling

in their ears, the sky in their voices,

for those who lift and carry

and shout and swear, for those

who can recite the lengths of boards

and tubes like a song, a psalm for them,

the ones who don’t like heights

but spent their whole life hiding it,

a psalm for those who work too long,

a psalm for my father, a psalm for him.

© Kim Moore