Under the Vault
(The Mason’s Bracket, Gloucester Cathedral)
Because we both sit here alone,
she speaks, lips broad unmodish red,
by pinnacles of fretted stone.
‘How did they build this, then?’ she says.
‘Barrows?’ I guess. Pulleys’ long jolt –
From blinding glass, spears glare by kings,
Christ’s thin bared face crowns ranks of wings.
But where a lesser light is thrown
one ledge, hacked from rough limestone, shows
a boy, who tumbles down the vault.
Apprentice, he hangs from his stone.
His arms are spread, his legs are curled.
Did drink or dizziness descend,
too long a night with his first girl?
High on a platform, weighed by sky,
his master stretches helpless hands
to boy, hair like an angel’s, streamed.
Unskilled in suffering, alone,
he crouches on unsoftened stone.
His God is dead. He carves our cry.
If you have any comments on this poem, Alison Brackenbury
would be pleased to hear from you.