I once watched a mason working on a wall.He was an Irishman, actually from the County Cork he said.
He would pick up a brick, spread the mortar, lay the brick.
His moves were like a graceful dance.
The sun shone on him, his red hair alight with the fire of the day.
His freckles, little copper dots kissing his face,
the hair on his arms a soft golden down.
I sat entranced by him.
He whistled constantly, effortlessly as he bent and straightened.
He seemed like a man in love with his work.
He explained how bricks have life in them; made from the earth
they are solid and grounded. They hold the heat from the sun
and the cool of the night. They shelter us from storms and provide
a haven of safety.
He knew an infinite array of patterns: Flemish bond, English bond,
single, double, herringbone, pinwheel, Della Robia.
He described them so reverently, almost as if he were saying a prayer.
What all did he teach me that day?
I don't really know, but I do love the sight of bricks and my heart warms
thinking of a sunlit day and a young man shining like copper and clay.