Building a house in winter, my father fought with earth cooked to iron by frost. He'd set a fire to thaw sand, gravel, cement, free water, then run with the barra’ to lay foundations before concrete set to a hard ice brick fossilising shovel and pick.
He worked back-breaker hours in cold so violent it could crack bricks like glass, on a single touch of steel weld fast a hand. Though never his. Too quick for that, unequalled through Yorkshire, he'd load the hod then climb so fast he met himself returning for a second stack.
Intimate as sweat, brick by brick lugging a dead weight, he put up half of Bradford in his time. Laboured hair grey as cement, scaffold of ribs plain through weather-burned skin, I see him through a sheet of ice: stooped, still climbing to the surface of forty years hard graft.
Terry Jones won first prize in the Bridport international poetry competition in 2011, the same year his extended pamphlet, Furious Resonance, was published by Poetry Salzburg. His poems have appeared in The New Statesman, Poetry Review, The London Magazine, Magma, Agenda, Ambit, The Rialto and elsewhere. He lives and works in Cumbria.