On a Church Steeple in Scaffolding
The steeple is caught in a cage of sky,
a cage of stars by night.
It stands in the skyline as something unfinished,
or finished once, to be finished once more.
The scaffold is a midrash on the steeple.
It makes story from discontinuities
in the structure’s ascent.
It is attentive to gaps and transitions,
confiding at failures to join.
It numbers the constituent parts.
The steeple and the scaffold
are, conjoined, a moral emblem:
they are ambition regulated,
extravagance brought within bounds.
They are semper paratus,
or the middle way.
Substance and shadow,
the argument and the outline,
plane and surface, line and vector,
the thing itself
and the thing that itself is not:
these are held, these constitute
the cage of sky,
by night the cage of stars.