The Architecture of Renewal

by Christine Adams Beckett

A window washer
Dangling stories above the streets
On a make shift swing,
Sling, a pulleyed system of
Scaffolding, bumps along
Steel and glass, repelling like a
Rock climber, another victim of
Monotonous work,
Which is never as meditative as one claims.

Instead, he drearily watches his own
Hands, as if they belong to someone
Else, embedded chalk in the
Life-lines of his palms and
Revisits an earlier argument he had
With his wife, a disagreement
About a real problem,
No streaks, no drips, a break.

Sisyphean, like painting the
Golden Gate Bridge, or,
Churning through another rotation,
La Vie Quotidien is washing the
Clothes we’ll dirty again,
Mowing the lawn that will grow, again,
Commuting over misnomered
Super highways: all the while,
Making the same mistakes
And slapping our wrinkled foreheads.

Serendipitously we stumble over
A hollowed-out building, undergoing more
Gut than restoration, its façade
Tired but exactly the same as we remember,
Like a high school classmate at a reunion
Whose skin may say 50, but her voice, the tilt of
Her amused head says: still a child.

A shell of nothing, the building,
A blur from the driver’s window,
Scaffolding built around it
Looks like a protective cocoon.
In a sideways glance,
A Timberland-clad workman jumps to the sidewalk,
Holds his hands at his side
As he finds his earthen legs,
The world spinning as fast as it does
With humanly vertigo,
He looks up, sighs,
Grins to himself with what we recognize
As relief and fulfillment .