I chose a bench where I could read Augustine
As one may do beside construction sites.
Late February, sunny, bitter, windy.
I settled down to read,
and sometimes I would look across
to watch the crew at work—the heavy blocks
hoisted into their places by the cranes,
while men took care to guide each to its home.
Then I heard them laughing.
A few shapes stood high on the scaffolding,
their voices ringing clear across the bright wind.
They threw their heads back, clapped their shoulders, laughed
standing against the blue. Far underfoot
swung rusted cranes, deep groaning with their loads.
I wondered where it was they found the humor.
Some joke it must have been,
poised there between the heavens and earth,
with such a fall below.
But they could laugh and keep their balance.
Then back they went to work, back to their building,
each stone on stone to scrape a brilliant sky
and I back to my reading and my building
(whatever it will be).
I still think of that morning, and I wonder:
perhaps they knew that chapels are the stronger
with laughter in their walls.
—Mary Caroline Whims