Friday Poem – A Psalm for the Scaffolders


Today’s poem is from Kim Moore’s debut collection, The Art of Falling. Check out our interview with Kim here.

Kim Moore lives in Barrow, Cumbria. She has an MA from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her poems have been published in the TLS, Poetry Review, Poetry London, and elsewhere. She regularly appears at festivals and events, her prize-winning pamphlet, If We Could Speak Like Wolves (Smith-Doorstop) was chosen as an Independent Book of the Year in 2012 and was shortlisted for other prizes. Moore won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2010. In 2014 she won a Northern Promise award. She writes a thoughtful blog and has a wide social media following. The Art of Falling (Seren 2015) is her debut collection.

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 shoes
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 the 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 the 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.

Order The Art of Falling from our website.

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