To Build a Cathedral

by Theodore Enslin

Theodore Enslin


The need is always with us
what is needed also there
Bruckner built cathedrals
careless of his congregations
who might come later in the spaces
empty at the building
There were others building and more fortunate
so they thought a populace around them
to congratulate a need fulfilled
so they thought
the taste turned dull with time
a blade that darkened and no longer cut
Later there were those who entered
not quite trusting where they were
the silences of what was left
a need in part fulfilled.


Where did time go unanswered
‘The mornings of genius are long’
length is no answer to ask
such a question impossible
none at all
of days there are others
of quality to be accounted
ah the count goes awry
Where did we go in a time
of no limits? answers pose questions
what there is not serious
as is
where and the why
the days and their fragments
miniscule as their length
nothing to measure and of quality
which is is not or in description
what can be expected of genius?
not from its mornings or later
its twilight such length
or dimension
to build a cathedral.


What will sustain itself through?
through drought and drowning

It is needful for the builder to go back
inspect foundations to go back
what he has built may sink at places
places where the ground’s uneven
bedrock faulted

It is needful to return with caution
to return to not to revise not wisely
a matter of re vision

Bruckner listened not always wisely
to those who would mend what they found faulty
incongruous unsafe often they were wrong
the builder listened at peril building
on ledge that appeared and then vanished
through drought and the drowning

Needful in return to go quickly
to the structure itself and wonder
how it could come to be.

The cathedral is never finished.


A sheltering
as a sheltering is never finished
it is a structure incomplete
wards off the rain and yet the rain seeps in
the structure rises and obscures what was open
sheltering a view arcane a beginning
seems to be is not complete
pediment to spout a gargoyle
to divert the rain and still seeps in
a water which returns is never finished
cathedral passes in the midst of being
builded of no finished stone
is not to be its finite ending
coming late as the builders sensing
what their forebears could not
concerned with building on a ground not solid
what might seem to be
a business that outlasts its tools
in ruins of a sky around it
a shelter for the moment but outlasting it.


A gap distance which conceives a presence
how it might cohere in separation
Bruckner could not know always where to go
hoped for connection a spark to leap
across remain and yet continue
not always so the stone may falter
fall completely into void or in reverberation
repeat its fall or make of it a spark
flaw is not in the stone or placing
mis placed though it may be a certain turn
makes something other of it the gap
a certain tenderness returns to air
as air surrounding the flaw is in mistrust
the builder must not listen to the well intentioned
voices hands that would correct a making
those that mistake the building contours
where to go? the simple going
not to interrupt the going ask no end
melodic as the several airs they reach
due time to sound and sound in other ways.


The stones of many shapes the stones of being
close to the source the ground once chosen
as a ground for building cornerstone well placed
should not be taken from its place needs only
that another stone should reach it a congener
in shape and size a stone of being
others from a similar ground aligned and placed
as relatives to what is already there erratic
the builder sorts them always aware
that what he builds is larger than himself
extreme humility accorded both stone and tools
nothing to be scanted surprises in the ordinary
the effect is natural to become effective
hard to define the boundings what is built
has been there found by one who picks it up
miscalculation that the stones may not rise
their weight denies them and a ruin stays
as what must remain unfinished open as a shelter
to what is alien in the structure jackdaws
piling in their nests a distant fancy.

Last updated November 02, 2022